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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Going Beyond Tradition

Summer of 1994- picture in Michigan Stadium
In the summer of 1994 (preparing for the 1995 season), the Streaks went undefeated for the summer. But that was not their goal.

In the 7 years from 1998 to 1994, Galesburg had won 20 games every year. The Streaks had won the Regional every year. And GHS had won the WB6 four of the 7 years.

The 1994 team had gone 24-6, won the WB6, and the Regional. But, we had lost to IVC in the Sectional in Thiel Gym in the first round of the Sectional. We started two sophomores, two juniors, and one senior on that 1994 team.We had a good year- certainly a year to be proud of.

So we had high expectations for our 1995 squad. We didn't just have a good summer, we had a great summer of basketball. We did the usual things- Streaks Camp and Galesburg Summer League. We had two tourneys in Galesburg, and we made two trips to Maine West to play. Then the highlight of our summers in the 1990's, we went to University of Michigan for team camp. 

Michigan Camp was six days in late July. Camp was four days but we came a day early, and stayed a day later. Our trip to Michigan was a great experience. We took Amtrak to Chicago. In Chicago, we had a break so we would walk down to Michigan Avenue and hit a few spots like Marshall Fields. Then we loaded back on Amtrak, and headed to Ann Arbor. 

We would arrive in Ann Arbor in late evening the night before the camp would begin. My wife's aunt and uncle lived in Ann Arbor, and they would shuttle from the train station to the dorm. We would have an entire dorm to ourselves as the rest of the campers would not arrive until the next day.

Coach Rux and I would try to put together a booklet for the players which was designed to help them with goal setting and with motivation. 

That first night, we met in meeting room in the basement of the dorm. We were to go over the basic rules and expectations for the week. Then with the varsity team, we tried to challenge them with a theme for the week, and a theme for the year.

Our theme that night was,"Going Beyond Tradition." We talked about how it was great to win 20 games, the WB6, and Regional titles. But... Sometimes without realizing it, do we not challenge ourselves enough? As a coach it was a special night because it was obvious what I was thinking as a coach was exactly what they as players were thinking.

In fact, all summer this group had been on a mission. Summer is about working and improving, not about winning. This group worked and improved the entire summer, and on top of it they did not lose a game the entire summer. They went to Maine West and Michigan, they were challenged, and they rose to the challenge. At that time, as high school coaches, we could only watch during games, while one of our alums coached the girls. It was exciting to just sit back and watch them.

When we left Michigan, it was obvious this group was on a mission. During the regular season, we went 29-3, won the WB6, and won the Regional. The Streaks went "Beyond Tradition," they were the first girls basketball team in GHS history to win the Sectional title. The first banner for girls basketball in Thiel Gym is the 1995- Sweet Sixteen. 

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