IF THE HAT FITS: The tale of two teams

Congratulations are in order for a pair of McAlester teams that recently finished their fall seasons.

Monday night, I sat on the edge of my seat as I watched a little high school volleyball.

The Lady Buffs had traveled to Midwest City for regional play, and were locked in a point-by-point back-and-forth match with Southeast.

There were rallies, diving saves, and a season of hard work all culminating in a thrilling postseason match.

Although McAlester didn’t come out on top in the end, it still took a dramatic five sets to declare the winner.

I’ve seen first-hand how those ladies progressed and overcame obstacles in the 2020 season. They remained tenacious in competition, and simultaneously focused on the match at hand and to the future.

So while Monday’s contest wasn’t how they wanted to finish their season, those Lady Buffs have a lot to be proud of this year.

The same can be said for their counterparts in softball.

Those Lady Buffs fielded a young squad that experienced some growing pains as it entered the season, including a two-week isolation period due to COVID-19.

But they didn’t let that stop them, and came hot out of the gate upon their return. They too faced postseason play at regionals last week, and had two hard-fought games. While they didn’t emerge as the victors, I still saw their hard work and dedication on full display.

The two teams are filled with competitive, driven young women. So it’s no surprise that their seasons began together back in the summer.

Coaches Kelleya Cox and Laurie Smith and their staffs combined the teams during the annual Summer Pride workouts, and they spent nearly every day for the next several weeks together.

I myself showed up to take some pictures on the final day, and something that the coaches told the ladies has stuck with me.

I’ll paraphrase, but they told their players to remember what the summer felt like being together, turning two teams into one. Not only had those ladies made friends, they made teammates across their respective sports.

They said to remember what it felt like, to be working alongside their fellow woman. Because that’s what being a Lady Buff was all about.

And that showed in each and every competition throughout the season for those young ladies. And believe me when I say that other people have noticed as well. So ladies, this is my hat tip to you all. And thanks for allowing this sports editor to tag along on your journey.

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.

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