The Afterglow

Well, mission completed.  Friday night, with about 200 fans in attendance, the Hale-Ray softball team won the state title.  They didn’t just beat Terryville, they flat-out dominated all aspects of the game.  Even our fans were better. 

That was the final out of the game.  Our pitcher held them to one hit.  They made four errors and about three other misplays.  Our girls rose to the moment, theirs let the moment overtake ’em.  It was as dominate performance as I have seen in recent years.  I was able to watch the game with my wife and daughter and both loved it.  My baseball team came out and showed great love for their classmates.  This wasn’t only a win for these girls, it was a win for the town. 

Saturday, the East Hampton baseball team won its first ever state title.  While they are our neighbors and natural rivals, I was happy for the kids and the coaches.  I have worked with them off and on the past four years as either a summer coach or just helping out when needed.  Our two schools play on the same legion team over the summer so there is a lot of friendships between the two schools.  I would call it a respectful rivalry.  Plus, it goes to show how freaking good the Shoreline Conference is.  It is by far the toughest small school league in the state and the fact that the past four major sports champions(b+g hoops, base and softball) all come from our conference.

While I wasn’t their coaches directly this season, this is the first time I have coached kids who went on to win a state title.  I coached a number of the girls in soccer this year and a few of the East Hampton kids when they were freshman.  I think that’s the biggest reason why I have such a connection and a sense of pride with these two titles.  I couldn’t be happier for the kids, coaches and everyone else involved.

Now, onto bigger things.  These two state title teams shows me what a team can accomplish when all members love each other like siblings and work as one to achieve a goal.  East Hampton was 3-17 last year.  This year, with relatively the same kids, state champs. Last year, the Hale-Ray girls were 14-9 and lost their last two games in the conference finals and 1st round of states.  This years results have re-energized me and gotten me focused on next year already.

I want so badly to win a state and conference title.  It has been way too long of a drought for boys teams at Hale-Ray.   I want the baseball team to end that streak and I want it to happen next year.  Yes, we are losing some key players but I believe with more hard work and complete dedication by our players that we can put ourselves into title contention.  Hell, all we have to do for motivation is look at the girls in our own school and our closest rival.  I swear to do all I can to put my team in the best possible spot.  A lot of what we do is going to come from our players though.  We need the extra effort in the off-season.  We need guys to buy into going the extra mile to win a title.  We need guys to compete with themselves and each other.  I need our two captains to lead by example.  I’ m just about done with saying “what could have been” and I want to start saying ” here’s what we accomplished.”  I don’t want to just make states, I want to win the whole damn thing.

These two wins have inspired me to be the best coach I can be.  I sure hope to hell that it my players are just as motivated.  We have a golden opportunity here and if they don’t believe that truly anything is possible than I don’t need them. 

We are just eight months away from the start of pre-season, but our march for the state title starts today.  Come on board because I think it is gonna be a helluva ride.

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