Cheers echoed through the orange and white gym, chanting, “Braves are great, all the way to state!” as the 1978 women’s basketball team climbed their way up the rankings and won the state championship. Forty years later, the girls’ basketball teams challenged Lake Nona Jan 12 in that same orange and white gym. The varsity team took a moment between the JV and varsity games to honor their successful predecessors with a ceremony.
Staff members reserved a section for 1978 girls team to watch the basketball games. After the JV game, varsity players escorted the 1978 team to the sidelines, then lined up in two parallel lines facing each other in the center of the gym. The girls started the ceremony with a rhythmic clap, encouraging audience involvement. As Coach Jerry Williams announced each 1978 member, a current varsity player handed them a rose, linked arms with them and escorted them back to their reserved seating.
“I am so grateful the coach is doing this. We get to remember something really joyful in our lives and I [came back] to see my friends,” Jenny Kite, the 1978 team captain, said.
Kite recalled the close-knit relationships amongst team members. In high school the girls held get-togethers for bonding, and pushed each other to set personal goals for the highest levels of success. Tim Doane, the coach’s husband, established individual goals for Kite. Before practice, team members wrote each other motivational notes.
“We were all friends and did not have a lot of drama, which is so huge for a team. It takes a lot to win a state championship. We haven’t seen each other in 40 years, and still, there have been lots of tears shed and laughter tonight,” Kite said.
Coach Pat Doane also created a personal relationship with the team. T. Doane attended the event in honor of his wife, who passed away. Kite remembers P. and T. Doane’s positive influences on the team. They drove the girls into peak shape, giving them an advantage over other teams.
“We had a strong relationship [with Coach P. Doane]. She worked us hard, worked out butts off,” Kite said.
The team completed long distance runs and suicide drills to allow fast breaking and movement on the court. They also scrimmaged with boys several times a week. The team’s conversations often included their final goal: winning the state championship.
“We went to state and lost in finals when I was a sophomore, and I got upset. We got close junior year, too. We talked about that we wanted to win states. We worked on our strengths and weaknesses, and got better as a team,” Kite said.
Senior Cassady Quintana on the current varsity team appreciates the legacy the 1978 team left behind, and hopes to apply similar techniques and achieve a successful season.
“From the state team, we learn how to put everything aside and accomplish one main goal, to win states. It hasn’t been done in 40 years and I think that makes us even hungrier to get back. I’m looking forward to winning games and championships and just furthering my relationships with my teammates and my love for the game. I can’t wait to see what the future holds,” Quintana said.
The girls basketball team’s next game is challenging Timber Creek tonight at 7:30 pm.