Tuesday, January 31, 2017

We Are The Champions ... Again!

In a satisfying finish to a fun, crazy, adversity-filled but ultimately triumphant season for my high-flying Scholars Academy Eagles, we used a big third-quarter surge Monday to put away our rivals, Fletcher, and win our second consecutive Charlotte Gastonia Athletic Association championship.

Scholars Academy, the No. 1-ranked elementary charter school in North Carolina (and No. 3 in the nation), had not ever reached the title game until 2015 ... but now we're on a roll!

Three straight appearances, including two consecutive championships - I'm so proud of my hard-working, determined Eagles.

When the final horn sounded for our 29-20 victory, we celebrated with hugs and high-fives and laughter and smiles, as parents clicked hundreds of photos. A few of the girls started acting a little weird and then I found out why, as they pulled out cans of Silly String and let me have it!

They later said they had considered the more traditional Gatorade bath but realized the clean-up would have been ridiculous. Another smart basketball decision by my girls!

The game was supposed to have been played last Thursday, but our opponent requested a delay because their coach had to leave town for a family emergency. We of course granted their request. At first, I wished we had played because we had a lot of momentum going after two playoff wins earlier last week. But in retrospect, it was great because it meant the season got to last a little longer!

We have one more team function, our season-ending party on Saturday, and I'll have a more detailed report after that.

Until then, I will bask in the championship glow for a few days ... and I'll keep trying to get all of the Silly String off of my clothes - a small price to pay for such a wonderful accomplishment.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Wow! What A Day!

I'm thinking that there will be even better days to come, but it will be pretty hard to top Jan. 24, 2017.

To date, it's my favorite day of 2017 ... BY FAR.

++ This morning, I received word that the captain and point guard of my girls basketball team, Ritika, was medically cleared after having suffered a mild concussion that had kept her out of four games. We had managed to win our first playoff game without her thanks to a tough-minded (albeit a little sloppy) effort by the rest of girls, but Ritika is the best player in our league and she makes everybody better. I was happy for my Eagles that she would be returning and, selfishly, happy for myself. But mostly I was happy for Ritika, because I think she loves basketball more than any player I've coached. Sitting out was driving her nuts!!!!!

++ A few hours later, we played our semifinal game and we were outstanding. Ritika was absolutely amazing - watching her, one never would have believed she had been sidelined. She and her teammates dominated our outclassed opponent in every facet of the game. We were up 18-2 when I called off the press in the second quarter, and we cruised to victory to advance to the conference championship game for the third consecutive season. Thursday, we go for our second straight title.

++ Right after our game, the school's boys team played really well to win their quarterfinal game. I was so caught up in the action that I made a few mistakes running the clock for the game. My girls, many of whom stuck around to watch their classmates, now have something they can make fun of me for. Or maybe I should say they have something ELSE they can make fun of me for!

++ Finally, my Marquette Golden Warrior Eagles stormed from behind to beat defending national champion Villanova - the No. 1 team in the country - in a thrilling finish. Students and others in attendance stormed the court to celebrate the "signature win" for third-year Steve Wojciechowski, which came just three days after a huge road victory over No. 7 Creighton. Tuesday was the first time we had beaten a No. 1-ranked team since Dwayne Wade led the 2003 group into the Final Four with an incredible win over Kentucky. Wow!

I'm still flying pretty high from all of the day's excitement, and I'm already looking forward to the rest of what's shaping up as one heck of a week.