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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Steve & Jeannine- Part I

Steve and Jeannine Bryant have followed the Streaks girls basketball team for years. It doesn't matter if it is in the winter or in the summer, they are there. They are not following the Streaks to see them win, they just seem to enjoy watching them compete. They never seem upset after tough games, they always seem to be able to find the positives. They really care about the girls. They are not big on second guessing the coaches or the players- they are supportive fans.

Massey- You went to GHS, were you a basketball fan growing up and in high school? If so, any memories that stick out?

Steve- Yes, I was a fan growing up.   The first game I remember going to was around 1958-59, which I went to with my brother who was a sophomore and some of his friends.   The game was at Pekin and my father drove us.  I remember our players stayed in the locker room while their names were announced, and it was a hostile environment, to say the least.  
             The first high school game that sticks out was during my sophomore year, (66) and it was a bus ride to Champaign, the first round of the state finals.   I sat with the Brannon sisters and Ruth Mims, which was an adventure in itself!   I followed the Silver Streaks through out my high school career.   The boys 50-50 drills before the games to the theme music of Sweet Georgia Brown was always a highlight.

Massey- When and how did you get involved following the girls teams?

Jeannine- In the mid 90's, Steve started working for the school district and took care of Wicall Gym.  He would come home and tell me how hard these girls worked, and we started going to games.   When the Gym got the new message board, (1998?)  it was run for the boys games, but not the girls.  I volunteered to learn it, and have been doing if for the home games since. 

Steve- I started to work for the school district in 1994, took care of Wical Gym and saw how hard the girls and coaching staff worked.  That was the beginning of a very good ride.

Massey- Are there any games that stick out for you that were really special?

Jeannine- The 1997 State semi final game against Taylorville (we lost by 5 or 6?) still sticks out because of the attendance at that game.  I believe that record still stands today as an attendance record for a girls game at Redbird Arena.   Quite an experience.
The 1998 State quarter final game loss against Loyola, because, it set the stage for the most incredible post season the next year.  The girls set their sights for the next season directly after that loss. 
             The 1999 post season started with a sectional OT win against Moline..........we were down by 3 with 15 seconds or so left, Moline was at the line for a 1 and 1, and they were high fiving one another on the bench.   The Moline girl missed the 1 and 1, we got the rebound, Flaar put up a 3 that clanked out to Megan Pacheco, she put up a three that went in at the buzzer and we were into OT.   That was at the same time that Steve knocked WGIL off of the air........another story all together.   We ended up winning by 10, maybe?  
             The 1998 Super Sectional was at the Dog House at NIU against Machesney Park Harlem, they had a great player named Aminatta Yanni.     We were up by 1, they got off a wild shot that banked off the board, and we won in OT.  (also the game where the classiest move ever by a Streak player was made:   during the team introductions, Jenny Zolper pulled Michelle Mundy onto the floor with her:  Michelle was the 16th girl on the team, and post season teams were only allowed 15, so Michelle was not going to be acknowledged...........Zolper took care of that.   Yes, girls, there were years where kids were actually cut from the team!)
             That set up the Quarter Final game against our nemesis from the year before:   Loyola.   That game looked to be a repeat of the loss of the year before, but the 3 that Jaque put in at the half dropped the lead.  Our girls picked and picked and picked away, and never gave up.   Score was tied with a few seconds left when we were able to put up a shot, a wild rebound by Zolper, who somehow got the ball to Larson, who put the ball in at the buzzer, and Silver Streak history was made.  
             1999 semi final game against Lincoln was another nail biter, Larson came up big with free throws, and we won by 2.   The championship game against Marshall was another game of David vs. Goliath, and we just didn't have enough.    It was one wonderful season.
             The games against Maria, and now Queen of Peace have always been fun.  The Maine South games have become like seeing old friends, the coaching staff and players families feel like friends we only see once a year, and during the summer, of course.
             The 2007 Sectional OT loss against Morton, of course!  Who could forget Taylor's 3 point at the buzzer that put us into OT?? 
             The 2008 game at Bloomington, the first time we saw The System in action.  Kids in and out, at first it was like "What the #%!!??"   BUT, we wiped away a huge deficit, with underclassmen running in and out, and it was a glimpse to where we are today.  We lost, but it was a refreshing change.
             Last year's win over Richwood's, a long time nemesis, using The System.

Steve-  They have all been special in their own way:  knowing the girls and their families has been wonderful.  
The entire 1999 post season- The win over Machensey Park Harlem, driving home from DeKalb and getting to bed around midnight. Getting a phone a couple of hours later, when Coach Massey asked me to drive to Chicago for some scouting films on Loyola.   Beating Loyola that Friday night!   The team and coaching signed that scouting report, and it is still hanging in the Garage Mahal.
             The 2000 Sectional final game against Moline. Being down by 3, with about 16 seconds left, and the Moline girl was a the line with a 1 and 1. The Moline team and coaching staff were all high fiving one another, and for the first, and only time, in my time following the girls, I turned to Jeanine and said  "It's over."  But then, of course, the Moline girl missed the free throw, and Megan put in that three at the buzzer to tie the game.............which no one listening to Norm Meyers on WGIL heard, because, in my excitement, I slammed my water bottle onto to their table, jumped up and ripped their wires out of the socket. They got back onto the radio about a minute in the OT, which we won by about 10?
             One game where we were losing to Rocky, Massey called a time out, and asked our all state guard:  "Just what are you waiting for?"   And we ended up winning. 

Massey- This may be something that is awkward because you have been supportive of all the girls. Is there any player(s) who was not a star and not in the normal limelight who really inspired you as an adult because of their unselfishness or courage?

Jeannine- Any of the McGunnigal girls:  none of them were ever starters, but they were, and have become,   the most amazing adults!  Michelle Mundy was also never a starter, but was always a favorite of ours.............we remember she was crying after the State Final loss against Marshall............And Steve telling her he couldn't wait to see her on the team again the next year.   She went out her senior year, knowing that she was not going to be a starter, or even play regularly............but she went out.   She is now a lawyer in the Cities, helping underprivileged people.  She has become an amazing adult also!    We seem to have lost that part of the program:  the part where people just wanted to be a part of the program, not necessarily be the starter.   It was great to read Sarah Main's sharing!  It is good for people to see how important the managers are to this system.   There are so many more kids that deserve mentioning,  but, again, I must move on.

Steve- Angie Galyon, Meg Sherwood, Steph Baker,  the Wessel girls come to mind........good team players  who have gone onto to do good things.    It is so hard to pick a couple out.  I cannot say this enough:   Every girl on the team, the managers, and the ones who didn't get all of the press, made this program what it is.  

Massey- You have followed us around in the summer to Maine West, Wisconsin, and even Ann Arbor. If you are planning vacation time, what in your mind is the summer event you want to make sure you are able to see?

Jeannine- Oh my goodness, this is so very, very, painful to say!   I have enjoyed the University of Wisconsin summer camp, it is an amazing campus, and the games are close enough we don't have to drive around to see them.   I have also enjoyed Maine West because I have made a lot of friends there from the Chicago area.  I enjoyed the one year we went to Ann Arbor because that was the year of Mike Rux's Great Eight.  Those kids were beating varsity teams all over the place!    We keep saying we are going to go to  Tennessee someday.....maybe this summer we'll make it.

Steve- That is one loaded question:  Wisconsin is my favorite place.  But I sure as #@!! wouldn't want to be there in the winter.

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