365 days ago, the Wheaton North High School girl’s basketball team finished their season with a disappointing loss in the opening round of the state playoffs. Upset with their performance, the underclassmen called a meeting. As a group they decided “unfinished business” would become their motto for the next year and they set their sights on a Regional Championship for 2013.
Wheaton North had not won a Regional for fifteen years and so the girls were well aware of the task in front of them. And the work began!
They started in May, and some of them joined the track team to throw the shot put and discus to improve their upper body strength. They put up 25,000 shots in hot and empty gyms. They met with a mental coach to work on their mindset and game day preparation. They studied film until their phones went dead. They focused on diet and sleep and they committed to learning the inbounds plays of every opponent.
November 1 could not come soon enough for this motivated group and when the ball was tipped, they were ready. Last year’s turnovers became this year’s layups. Last year’s complaining became this year’s encouragement. The smiles replaced the frowns as last year’s record of 13-16 turned to 22-7.
Last week, this group entered the playoffs wearing their “Unfinished Business” shirts. Thursday night, in a battle on their opponent’s home floor, the Falcons brought home the regional trophy! The scene on the court as the buzzer sounded to signal the OT victory was one of sheer joy. They visualized this victory 365 days ago and it became real on the court that night. Each player went up the ladder and cut a piece of the net. It is way more than a thread to them. The seniors walked the ladder slowly and they each paused for a minute, and everybody knew exactly why. It was a night and a moment to savor in every way.
This team is not done. Sectionals are next and they are in uncharted territory, but they are together and they are still hungry.
Their coach said it best at the team victory party as he choked back tears wearing a very sweaty suit. “This is the best team I have ever coached and the hardest workers I’ve every met in my life. This trophy is yours, this night is yours and I could not be prouder. Now, go home and go to bed because you have practice tomorrow!”