An Awakening

I went years with my head and heart filled with utter disdain toward a certain team.  I had never been shy about these feelings.  There really wasn’t one reason but a combination of many factors that went into it.  The unbridled success, the coaching, their ego’s, the reputation, the fan base, etc. etc. etc.  This year though, I have seen the light.  My opinion has changed and I am so glad it did. 

For once, I can openly say  I have become a fan of Hale-Ray softball.  You have no idea how hard that was for me to admit.

For as long as I can remember I had a severe dislike, a jealousy you can say,  of that team.  They always won.  As a baseball team, we seemed to always lose.  Even my senior year when the baseball team finally made the states, they had a run to the state finals and we were overshadowed.  My disdain continued when I started coaching in 2000.  Again we were awful and they were regular contenders for state titles.  In 2004 we had our breakout season as a baseball program, we made it to the state semi’s.  We were all proud of our success, what does the softball team do: only go undefeated and be voted the top team in the entire state.  Overshadowed once again.

Fast forward to this year.  I coached high school girls for the first time during the soccer season.  I got a real appreciation for how much these girls compete.  I began to have a new appreciation for them.  this continued into the basketball season.  I saw a team that wasn’t overly talented but had no quit in them.  They got the absolute most out of themselves and found themselves in the state tournament.  A lot of those same kids now play softball and it’s because of them my opinion has changed.

They are just a fun group of girls to watch.  They bring so much love of the game to the field and that has a lot to do with their head coach.  Suzie has coached this team for a few years now.  While she hasn’t got the talent of the juggernaut teams from the early 2000’s,  she finds a way to get the most out of the girls.  She coaches to their abilities and doesn’t try to force them into a specific way.  She has speed at the top and power in the middle and uses the two elements perfectly together.  Of course it helps when your 3 and 4 hitters are your two captains and all-state players.

This team has no quit in them.  This run to the state finals tonight has not been easy.  They won the Shoreline Conference title but not before they had to come back from a 11-0 and a 13-3 deficit in the quarterfinal game against North Branford.  They scored 13 runs in the last three innings to win.  5 in the sixth, 5 in the seventh to tie than 3 more in the eighth to win coming from two behind.  It was one of the best games I have ever seen.  Not softball games, any game.  They also had to battle back from deficits in the semi’s and finals.  This team plays with so much grit and determination that no deficit is too large.  THey just know that they will win and do whatever it takes to get that win. 

THe road to the finals has not been easy either.  Yet again they had to come back from a deficit in the state quarters against arch-rival Coginchaug winning 7-6 in 8 innings.   At 7pm tonight the girls play in Stafford against the #1 seed Terryville at DeLuca Field.  Terryville is the defending champs and the Kangaroos have had our schools number in the past.  In states, they beat us in baseball three years ago and basketball four years ago in basketball, both at our school.  Do we want a bit of redemption, you’re damn right.

Mostly though I want it for these kids.  This journey they are on must end one way only: holding up that trophy.  They play the game the way it is supposed to be played.  They play in a way that their fellow school, alumni and town can all be proud of.  Hell, they play a way that turned their biggest non-fan into a believer.  I respect what these girls have done and what they have yet to accomplish.  I am genuinely excited for tonight.

There is only one thing left to say: GO KICK KANGAROO BUTT TONIGHT!!!!!

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15 Responses to “An Awakening”

  1. literally could not agree more with this article

  2. I am sitting eating lunch in East Hartford and I just saw a pig flying up the river. I thought it was strange until I read this, now it makes perfect sense.

  3. aint that the truth

  4. Geesh…it took you this long to come to your senses! This is a day that will go down in history (okay, maybe my mental notes). Girls sports rock…it’s just that simple. They work just as hard as the guys and actually appreciate a good win even that much more. I’m glad to see that you’re starting to come over from the darkside. Thoughts on UCONN Women’s Basketball or the WNBA?

    • Yeah, lets not get crazy. Still not a fan of those two but I can appreciate a good softball team now. BTW, I understand you guys were pretty decent back in HS…..

  5. Perhaps the fact that you have a daughter played a role in softening your opinion? Just a thought from a ‘girl’ who’s known you for a long time.

  6. Tthis really is a special team though. No doubt about it.

  7. Thankyou for supporting us this season and also being there to motivate us in soccer and basketball. I’ll be back to visit and hopefully one day I’ll see you head coaching.

    • Well,”player” I’ll have more on you guys in a few days. On behalf of all your fans, both old and new, thanks for a great season. And to you, congrats on a great four years, could not have ended better.

  8. It takes a lot to build a program and to keep it consistant for so many years. The girls look up to you as an assistant coach for soccer. They respect you and are thankful for everything you do for them. Looking foward to watching the girls soccer program grow as you coach them throughout the next couple of years.

    • well, we have a lot of growth to do, hopefully they know now what it takes to be labled a champion. Enjoy your last few days walking the halls. I can imagine the feeling will take a while to fade away.

  9. Hale ray girls sports are talked down upon dialy by boys sports throughout the school year. Boys soccer talks over girls soccer, boys basketball is talked over girls basketball. Softball is mainly the only thing the girls have to call theirs. It isnt anything anyone should hate.

    • Maybe, just maybe soph, the time has come for a change. Athletes are athletes and it has taken me many years to realize that. Give em time, they’ll come around. Winning cures all remember, but that means we have to start winning in the fall too.

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