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Voyageur's Best Sports of 2004

Jeana Anderson plays defense in a basketball game

Well done, well deserved
Cromwell made it to state
by Bill Pocernich  | March 23, 2004

It is important to dream. Not while you are asleep, but while you are stone cold awake. It is important to aspire to great things, and then work to make those dreams come true. For, without dreams, without high aspirations, what fun is life?

The previous statement is something which I truly believe. I have many dreams and aspirations in my life, but the one relevant to this column deals with my dreams for my basketball teams. Like many coaches, that dream is to lead a team to the state tournament and ultimately win the championship.

Over the past few years, I have coached many great young men, but I felt the vast majority of them didn’t share this dream or aspiration. In order to make them see it as something real this year, I gave each player a laminated card at the beginning of the season. On the front was a picture of the Target Center (the location for the Minnesota State Boys Basketball Tournament) and the words, “Why not us?”

On the back was the phrase, “Deserve Success” and then a list of qualities I felt were needed, not just for my team, but any team, to reach their potential as a group. Being afforded the opportunity to be around a state tournament team this season, the Cromwell Cardinal girls, I decided to see if the list I constructed was worth the paper it is written on.

#1 – Set challenging goals: Early in the season, Head coach Dave Foster took some members of the Cromwell girls basketball team to Williams Arena to watch UMD play the Gophers. Coach Foster, his wife, and the members of the team stood on the floor this December afternoon following the game. As they looked at the rafters above them, Coach Foster said to his players, “This is where we are going to be in March.” The challenging goal was set.

#2 – Work hard: The members of the girls team played in 19 summer league games this past summer. They participated in countless tournaments and camps, while four members played at least two years on area AAU teams in addition to their spring sports. The girls had four Saturday practices this year. They paid the price.

#3 – Be persistent: I mentioned those 19 summer league games, but failed to mention that they won exactly none of them. They didn’t quit. They didn’t stop believing. They still kept the dream and worked their hardest to make it come true.

#4 – Be positive: In games and practices I attended, I don’t recall the girls arguing with each other or showing frustration with each other. I remember seeing many encouraging low fives between teammates after a mistake, and excitement after a particularly good play.

#5 – Be passionate: The girls went above and beyond this year. There wasn’t a day that went by this winter when there wasn’t a group of players studying film of their games in the library. They had two or three starters in the gym nearly every game day at 7:30 a.m. for a game-day ‘shoot around’. They did these things not because they were told to, but because they wanted to.

#6 – Sacrifice: These girls have sacrificed much to have the success they enjoyed this season. They sacrificed time on Saturday mornings and game day mornings when players on other teams were sleeping. They sacrificed weekends in the spring for AAU tournaments. They sacrificed time with family and friends to spend with the team, and they did it with a proper attitude — because they wanted to, not because they were required to.

With all of this sacrifice, it begs the question, “Is it worth it?” For me, that question was answered on Fri., night, March 12, at UMD, when the final buzzer went off in the Section 7A championship game. One look in the eyes of the players and coaches spoke 1,000 words, and each of those words was “Yes!”

Congratulations girls, on an outstanding season. Hopefully, the traits you showed this season will motivate future athletes to work towards the success you have enjoyed.

This article first appeared in the March 23, 2004 issue of the Voyageur Press.