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  • Writer's pictureCalli Townsend

Thank you from a Lady Pioneer

Tonight I lost a basketball game 79-31. And now my season is over, there is no more basketball left to be played this year. No basketball for me next year either…or the year after that…or ever.

Heart breaking.

But I am glad to have had something in my life for the past ten years that makes being done so heart breaking. I’m glad to have something I’ve been passionate about, that I’ve practiced and worked towards, and most importantly, a special family I can call mine.

We may have lost big tonight, but since 5th grade, we have only lost 15 games (not including travel). I don’t know how many wins, but to only have lost 15 games is something to be proud of I’d say. And there is a tremendous group of people I have to thank for letting me be apart of such a great group.

First, my mom and dad. Many miles have been covered for me to play the sport I love. But you’ve done way more than just drive me places. Dad, I remember one day after practice you brought me home and said, “I give Rob a lot of credit for working with you girls. You don’t have a lot of focus.” Those weren’t your exact words, but I’m pretty sure I’ve summed them up accurately. Thanks for coaching us anyways, no matter how hyper and unfocused we were. And thanks for all the extra time you put in helping me get better, from playing one on one and correcting my shooting form, to giving me constructive criticism after my games. Not many dads can still play one on one with their high school daughters…You’re pretty awesome.

Thank you both for rebounding for me. Mom, you fell once trying to catch the ball. I’m glad you were okay, otherwise I would’ve felt bad for laughing as hard as I did (she laughed too, for those of you reading wondering what mean daughter laughs at her fallen mother😊). Thank you for being my biggest cheerleader. I can always hear your voice from the stands. And thanks for the team dinners, snacks, drinks, team workouts and trainings, words of wisdom and encouraging pep talks. You’re a great team mom! And I am certainly glad you’re my real mom.

Rob VanConant…you definitely do deserve a lot of credit. From third to eighth grade, you put in so many hours helping us get to where we are today. You made us laugh every day. We enjoyed playing because you made it fun. But you also equipped us with the skills to win, which was equally fun. You dealt with our goofiness and turned us into a pretty good basketball team. And thank you for still coming to our games to this day.

And Steve Soper, thank you for coaching the grade above me, and even my grade one year. I don’t know if there is another person who coaches as much as you. I think you take off like fifteen days a year. Not many people can do what you do, and our school owes you a huge thank you.

Mr. Strachan, our seventh grade coach. Seventh grade was a huge deal because it was our first real school team. And you yelled a lot, making it an even bigger deal. I think you made us a lot tougher…and a lot more focused. I’m pretty sure you introduced to us a play called “wheel.” It took us a solid week to finally get it, if I’m remembering correctly. Thank you for your patience!

Mrs. Regan, my freshman coach, and also my hurdle coach. I have a lot to thank Mrs. Regan for. You turned me into a stronger leader. You also turned our team into a real fit bunch of girls. Thank you for all the notecards you wrote us before each game, I still have all of mine. Thank you for your high expectations. I never wanted to let you down. I remember crying after losing a game to a Detroit team because I thought we had just given you the first loss of your coaching career, but it turned out that undefeated streak only pertained to league games. (Don’t worry…We didn’t ruin that streak.)

And now Mr. Bongard and Mr. Simmons. My third and final year of varsity basketball has come to an end, and I wish I could go back to the first practice my sophomore year and do it all again. I’m not going to lie, my sophomore year was a year of adjustment. I didn’t like getting yelled at, I missed my other teammates, the girls were bigger and faster…there was just a lot to get used to. I’m glad I adjusted and decided to “buy into what you guys were saying.” Being apart of this team and playing for you guys was an honor. I am so proud to be apart of this program you’ve built. There is a reason you’ve won seven district titles in a row. I don’t think any other coaches are as dedicated and passionate as you.

Simms, one of my favorite pictures is of you jumping in the air after a buzzer beater win against Armada. If that isn’t passion, I don’t know what is. You don’t just jump in the air because of exciting wins, but you jump when someone checks off or does a cool post move too. You care about it all…every little detail.

Detail is something Mr. Bongard pays close attention to as well. Your practice plans are written according to the minute. Who does that? Actually, I guess I do too. I figure if I want to be a good coach, I better do what one of the best coaches does. Thank you both for the hours you spend watching film and talking on the phone. And snuggling on the couch…do you really do that? 😄

You guys go above and beyond. You aren’t just the varsity coaches, but you coach kids from third grade and up with all the camps you do. My dream was always to be “one of the girls standing there coaching me.” Being one of those girls has allowed me to do some pretty fun things outside of basketball. Thanks to you guys, I’ve been put in a position to lead young girls with the same dreams I had. Basketball has really made me a leader, and I owe a lot of that to you guys. Thank you.

And thank you for making it fun. We work hard of course, but I love when you’re goofy. You guys are truly great at what you do. You find the perfect balance between “the dirty work” and fun, which has led to tremendous success. Thanks for dancing, speaking in a “foreign” language, telling stories, telling jokes, and making fun of each other. Is there really a better coaching duo than the two of you?

Lastly, thank you to my teammates. There were six seniors on my team this year. That’s always an exciting thing to have that many people who stick around for all this time. We have more memories than I can even remember. I don’t think that even makes sense…but you get what I mean. But I’m not just talking to those six seniors, but to all of the people who have been my teammate at one time or another. We’ve accomplished some great things, had some great laughs, and shed a great amount of tears. All in all, our family is pretty great. Thank you for pushing me to be better and encouraging me when I’m down. I love our jokes, sayings and traditions. Thank you for making basketball so much fun. “Family” is not just something we yell after a huddle, but it truly is what we are.

Being a Lady Pioneer is something to be proud of. Thank you to everyone who made it possible. There’s Rissy, Mrs. Bombard, Mr. Seidl, Kelsey Levitt, Mrs. Bongard, Mrs. Simmons, all of our parents, grandparents, Curt and Jake, Chance, the past Lady Pioneers for coaching, our community for supporting us, and even more. I appreciate you all.


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