Wins of the Day {pt. 2}

We are, in all reality, going to call this Heart & Hometown Pt. 3….

Because my word.

Describing tonight’s final & ultimate win is going to be a challenge, but I’m going to attempt it because the world needs to know.

Or atleast anyone not from Magnolia who reads this and needs a taste of Smalltown USA.

We.

The Magnolia Panthers.

Were the underdogs. Let’s just be real about this.

This was Facing the Giants all over again.

We were not predicted to go far. We were not predicted to win, but the boys had the mindset of show up, show out, get the job done.

They knew their responsibilities to their coach, their teammates, and themselves. They knew where their loyalties lied, they trusted each other, trusted their coaches, and they came out to complete the tasks before them.

{First, let’s have a little history lesson}

In 1997, I was 4 years old {almost 5 #junebaby}.

In 1997, my uncle was the assistant basketball coach of the Magnolia Panthers.

On March 9th of 1997, they took the state title in 3A basketball.

22 years later, I am an MHS Alum & MHS teacher watching my own students play for the 4A state title.

In my own high school career, I have cheered in 2 state tournaments and we even made it to the semi-finals with the girls one year.

I’m not so sure it compares to what I watched tonight.

As teachers, those are our kids on that court.

We will rejoice in their winning, in their big moments, their plays, their rebounds, their 3-pointers, and we will yell for them, at the refs for what we think are missed or horrible or one-way calls. We will also defend and back our team like no other.

I’m going to say watching as a teacher is more fun & intense.

I can’t imagine what it will be like if either of my girls play sports & I will watch my actual biological kids compete.

Well tonight and these past 2 weeks we were not alone.

Our community showed up to show out.

To the crowd that made the drive to Hot Springs—THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING OUR BOYS!

I have heard with my own ears people around our town ask “why is this such a big deal? they aren’t your kids” or “I don’t get why you teachers get so invested”

…hold your horses…and my earrings

  1. It is a big deal because the last time we went to the finals was 2006 & we-got-robbed. It is a big deal because the last time we won was over 20 years ago. It is a big deal because this is not your typical team–we start 2 freshmen who lead the board. It is a big deal because it is just a big deal. Now let me scoot over to make room on the band wagon for you.
  2. We the teachers are so throroughly invested… well because we are. If you aren’t invested in your students, then you’re not doing this teaching thing right. Let’s be real. Good teachers know their kids and invest in them more than their core curriculum or their standards or learning objectives. Good teachers build relationships and support their students in anything they do—quiz bowl, art show, sports, leading the worship team at church, etc.. You just invest in them because that’s just part of it.

So now let’s rehash this.

It was the showdown of the season and the game everyone has talked about because Mills was the team to beat with a starter at the stature of 6’8. Our boys top out at 6’3. The commentators were trying to find something we would have the advantage on, and while they commented on Mills players’ stature or points or season stats, we were commented on 1 player being given offers by D1 schools as a freshman, 1 player being offered different scholarships in football, and then that Magnolia brought almost the whole town with them to make up 3/4 of the crowd.

It was a sea of red.

I mean God could have sent Moses on down if needed to lead the student section.

People were packing in by 1pm to sit through not 1, but 2 ballgames to make sure they had prime seating for the game of the year.

We were sent 500 tickets to presell in the front office of the school Tuesday, and they were gone in 15-20 minutes.

Now back to the commentators.

They could not stop talking about the fan base of Magnolia & the student section.

They could not believe that even though we were listed as the visitors for the game {and every game in the state tournament for that matter if I remember correctly}, we definitely had the feel of a hometown ballgame going on.

Just like in the posts of our other winnings, this was intense, insane, and SO satisfying to say the absolute least.

The support from the community & the fans & the student section is what completely sets us apart from everyone else.

When it comes to cheering and such at a game, we’re off in our own league.

We so extra…

So to sum it up–proud doesn’t describe it. There really aren’t words because it is so incredibly satisfying to see these boys finish a season {they have fought for} with a state title.

Now were the Mills boys less talented? Absolutely. Not.

They had the cleanest shots I had ever seen and those 3-pointers… and they knew what they were doing. They are always such a talented group who know how to play ball. That can’t be taken from them.

But we managed to come out on top with our skills, our intensity, our community, and our heart.

It hit a few pretty hard that this was ultimately their final game as a panther, and their last time to wear their jersey. It was their last time for family members to watch them and the last time some will play basketball period.

It was just the last time for some, and that’s a hard realization when a chapter like that closes.

But what a way to close it.

Now let’s also talk about the post interviews.

They of course interviewed the head coach, and he {as always} had the perfect words to describe the game.

Then came the interview for one of the players.

They interviewed one of the freshmen starters.

They asked him his question.

“Well first I want to thank God”

Out of the mouth of a teenager. I want to thank God.

That may not sound like much & as an outsider looking in you can easily say, “oh all those athletes say that stuff after a win”

No. No they don’t.

And if you have watched him and listened and met his parents and seen him outside of basketball, then you would understand that he meant it. He wanted to thank God for this game and this win and this night and for who knows what else, but he wanted to thank God.

Then he proceeded to talk about the relationships the team has and that he and his other freshman teammate had played ball together for quite a while so they knew each other and could read each other. He had some other wonderful speaking points, but that first sentence still had me like wow.

To say the least, this is the magical part.

The part where Monday, we get to go to school, congratulate our boys, celebrate, and be happy for them for achieving something monumental. We get to say that the team that no one thought could, did. We were the underdogs. We believed. We were consistent. We did it.

Then we get to say we were there, we were their teachers, we know them, and how we remember exactly how it all happened when they come back in 20 years for their reunion and the next time we win the state title.

This was insane to see and the game of a lifetime.

We. Won.

Oh and back to the history lesson.

One senior who played his heart out tonight—-ahem* that just won the state title for the first time in 22 years to the day…

His dad played for the 97′ team that won the state title 22 years ago.

Tell me that isn’t fate.

Then tell me that isn’t cool.

It’s just another great day to be a panther.

2 thoughts on “Wins of the Day {pt. 2}

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