S: Together. . . . . The Unforgettable 2011-2012 SMMS Girls JV Basketball Team and Their Road to Glory
BC: Together | You Can't Achieve It If You Don't Believe It | DWM 9/22/2012 | Photos in this book courtesy of Uniquely Yours Photography
FC: The Unforgettable 2011-2012 SMMS Girls JV Basketball Team and Their Road to Glory | Together | You Can't Achieve It If You Don't Believe It
1: This is a picture book about the greatest basketball team in the history of St. Mary Magdalen School. It tells the story of how a group of 5th and 6th grade girls came together with the common goal of being the best basketball team they could possibly be and how they fought through every obstacle and every adversity to become State Champions. It also tells how they united a school and community in the face of adversity and proved just how great the game of basketball can really be.
3: There will never be another group of girls like this group of girls. To come into a season with the expectations of being a very good basketball team is one thing. To exceed those expectations and be a great basketball team is whole different animal. To have the will, determination, and inner strength to be great is an attribute that is not often found in athletes this age. It is an attribute that you try and instill in your players in the hopes that they will give their best effort every time they step on the basketball court. This group of girls took it to whole other level. They aimed for perfection and achieved greatness. What they went through and what they accomplished will remain with them and everyone who had the privilege of watching them for the rest of their lives.
4: "TOGETHER" That was our "motto". This wasn't one player or two players. It was a collection of twelve individuals bringing their own unique qualities together to form one amazing basketball team. | Wherever they went, Whatever they did, They went through it together.
5: The "You Can't Achieve It If You Don't Believe It" Document Prior to the start of the season, each player was given this document and all agreed to do their best to try and accomplish everything in it. Prior to our trip to the New England Regional Tournament, each player was given their "report card".... "Accomplished" for all 11 items. A testament to their hard work, will and determination to be the best they could possibly be.
6: Before the season started, I told the girls we could approach this season in 1 of 2 ways. One, we could show up at practice and games with the attitude that we were going to run around and have fun, not have any goals in place, score a few baskets and smile to our parents and friends in the stands, and lose every game by twenty points.; or two, we could show up at practice and work our tails off, work harder than any other team, set goals for ourselves as individuals and as a team, and win every game. I had no interest in the former and neither did our girls. They understood full well that there was no joy in losing and they were ready and committed to showing up every day to work harder than any other team in the league. I told them that the opportunity was in front of them to be a very special team......as long as they wanted to be a special team and they were committed to being a special team. The way this group responded exceeded all of my expectations by a mile and then some. They wanted it and knew what it was going to take to get it. Not bad for a group of 5th and 6th graders. "Grit" is a combination of persistence and resilience.. This is the word that perfectly describes the makeup of this team. They possessed "grit" which allowed them to follow the path to "greatness". This is an attribute I'm sure we would all like our children to possess or at least understand the importance of being "persistent" and "resilient"; but the degree to which this group of girls understood was something quite amazing. They possessed a maturity and understanding way beyond their years. As the season went on and the wins started to accumulate, these girls firmly believed that no one was going to beat them because no one was as "gritty" as they were. Every time they stepped on the court, they believed they were the best ......individually and as a team,......there was no doubt in their minds. Everything a coach would ever want his team to be, they were. The easy part of coaching is the X's and O's. The hard part, especially for kids this age, is instilling in them the importance of "winning" while still having fun; and the will, determination, persistence and resiliency it takes to be champions. Very few kids "get it" at this age. Most often these intangibles can't be taught. You either have it or you don't. To have 12 girls together on one team that possessed these character traits and were ready, willing, and able to make the sacrifices required to be champions was quite extraordinary. | "Life Circumstances" force kids to develop character. Jenna and her teammates were faced with an unimaginable "life circumstance"; and what made them so extraordinary was that they didn't need to develop character.....they already had it and they used it to deal with the circumstance they faced. The didn't let the circumstance dictate what they were going to do or how they were going to handle the situation. They were built to deal with it. There's no doubt it hit them extremely hard.....it knocked them down, but they got up. The girls lifted Jenna and Jenna lifted the girls. Together they had a vision. They refused to live in circumstances and decided consciously, as a team and as a family, to live in a vision; and that's why they became champions.
7: They refused to live in circumstances and decided consciously, as a team and as a family, to live in a vision; and that's why they became champions.
9: Our Music | There is nothing that gets the players pumped up more and gets the crowd pumped than a good introduction song and good beats during pre-game warm-up drills. Before the start of every game, with about 6-7 minutes before the tip-off, we would head down the hallway for our pre-game talk. The girls would then line up in a single file with the first 3 girls having our traditional pink basketballs. As they approached the entrance to the gym, the music would start blaring and they would explode through the doorway and make their way around the entire gym......passing the opposing team on the way to their layup line. The girls were intimidating to the other teams. You could see it on the opposing teams' faces and in their eyes. There were many times when we won the game during our "3-man weave". The music, the attitude, the crispness and precision which the girls went about their pre-game drills ......many-a-time it was "game over" before we ever even lined up at center court for the opening tipoff. When the other team pretty much "throws in the towel" before a second has ticked off the clock......that is called "Greatness". | "Party Rock Anthem" | "Written in the Stars" | "It's My Time" | "Run This Town" | "Good Feeling" | "International Love" | "Remember the Name" | "The Power iIs On" | "Not Afraid" | "Till I Collapse"
10: This is how you open a season.....complete and total domination. It's too bad it had to be St. Bridget's because they are such a nice group of kids and their coaches and parents are such nice people...........Oh well.
11: Dear St. Bridget's Lady Saints, Sorry we had to do this to you. Don't take it personal. For years we took our beatings, smiled, and went home. Well, we'll be dishing out the punishment this year. If you happen to see the rest of the league, tell'em we're looking for them! Love, SMMS JV Lady Cougars
12: This was our first real "test" of the season. SSPP had one of the top 6th graders in the state in Century McCarthey and their gym has always provided a hostile environment. Needless to say, we passed the "test" to the tune of a 25-point pounding. Nothing better than beating your arch rival on their court. We would see them 3 more times before the year was over and as you will see, they "closed the gap"
13: SSPP was a gracious host to say the least. This was our first of three tournament championships. We won three games by a combined score of 122-41. When you win a championship, you fee like a champion and carry yourself like a champion. The girls, at this point, look like champions in every aspect. The Lady Cougars are "ROARING"! I really felt good for Jenna Madigan and her Dad....Scott was there for all the games and Jenna made the All-Tournament team along with Erin and Gabbie.
14: At this point of the season, Coach Bob and I are really feeling good about our team. We've seen every team and we've outscored our opponents 318-113. We're winning by an average margin of nearly 26 points a game. What really makes us feel good and has us thinking that this team can go really far is the fact that our defense is relentless. Opposing teams just can't get the ball over half court when we press. For a coach,.....it's a thing of beauty.
17: SMMS 49 SSPP 41 | 10-0
18: 13-0 and going strong. The game at BSS was a battle. We won by 15, but it was an absolute war. That court is extremely small and tough to play on because it doesn't allow us to extend our defense and get easy fast-break baskets. Julia got slammed to the floor going for a loose ball with 1 second left in the 1st half. I thought she was really hurt badly, but she wanted to stay in the game. She took the inbounds pass and sank it from just inside half-court. At this point in the season I am thinking we have a pretty good shot at "running the table". If we keep playing defense the way we have, there is no team that can stay with us.
21: We ended our 2010-2011 season by getting beat by St. John's at there place in what was perhaps the biggest "home job" I have ever witnessed; so we took great pleasure in going back there a year later and putting them over our knees to the tune of 41-9. I don't normally like to play the "revenge card" with kids this age, but I took great pleasure in paying them back the way we did. I told the girls before they went out for the jump ball, "Look those players in the eyes when you get to center court and tell them....Sorry we have to do this to you, but......" After the game, Mike Uszakiewiccz treated the girls to a UConn Women's basketball game in Hartford. Great seats on the floor, all the food they could eat, and dinner afterwards. The girls are lucky to have such generous parents. It's funny,.... the hard work, the will, the determination, the "refuse to lose" mentality our girls exhibit mirrors that of Geno's girls. Just like the UConn women, we are winning games before the jump ball. Teams are scared of us. By the time we finish our warm-up drills, the game is over. The opposing teams already know they don't stand a chance. | Mini-Huskies
24: Finishing the season with a perfect record was quite an accomplishment for our girls. 1-15 two years ago, 9-7 last year and now 19-0....that is an amazing accomplishment; but what transpired in the post season for this team is something that will will be long remembered by all those who stood witness to it. The Girls JV Tournament was being held for the first time ever. We were the host and the heavy favorite. Our girls were excited and ready to show everyone how great they really were. This was going to be their coming out party. But, In all sports, teams that are great must overcome adversity to achieve greatness. Little did our girls know what was about to coming crashing down on them three days before the start of the tournament. Little did we all know how magnificent they would be in the face of that adversity. Jenna, with the love and support of her teammates, family, and friends fought through it like a Champion; and her teammates used her as an inspiration to fight through the heartache they were enduring. As the girls often say to each other, "We got this". For all those who saw it, they "had it". | There are certain moments in sports....games, individual performances, stories,...that really show how great sports can be. In my lifetime, there are a few that really stand out....An injured Kirk Gibson coming off the bench and hitting a home run on 1 leg in the 1988 World Series .... Brett Favre's memorable performance on Monday Night Football in 2003 just 2 days after his father died of a heart attack....Derek Jeter hitting a home run for his 3000th hit in 2011. The one that stands out the most for me, though, was the Mets-Braves game that was played just 10 days after 9/11. It was one of the most emotional baseball games I had ever watched. Two bitter rivals coming together to play a game on the heels of one of the greatest tragedies our country has ever endured. It was a game that needed to be played. The city of New York needed it. Our country needed it. We needed the game of baseball to bring people together so they could heal...so they could feel good. Albeit for only a few hours, but we needed it to show the world that we were going to be OK. With the score tied 2-2 in the 8th inning and with the New York crowd waiting to explode,
25: New York Met catcher Mike Piazza came to bat....and after taking a first pitch strike, he breathed new life into a grief-stricken city and country by blasting a monster home run to center field. The Shea Stadium crowd went wild.....the whole country went wild. Well, this tournament could not have been played at a better time for Jenna, her mom, her family and Jenna's teammates. Basketball, as it always has and always should, makes people feel good. It makes people happy. Whether it's a long and frustrating day at work, personal family issues , financial troubles,....basketball (or any sport being played by our children) should be used as a tool to help us heal....to make us feel better. This tournament helped everyone heal. Even if it was only for a few hours or a few days, it made people feel better. To play in front of a standing room only crowd and be able to feel the love and support that permeated throughout the gymnasium was unbelievable. To see our girls with their green arm bands and the opposing teams wearing shamrock tattoos to show their support for Jenna ...to listen to the compassion and support | from the opposing coaches, players, parents and students really said a lot about the character of our community; and to see Jenna take the court in front of all those people in the face of what she had just gone through and lead her team into the Championship Game by scoring a career high 13 points said mountains about her courage and character. As Jim Valvano said in his famous ESPY speech back in 1993, "To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that, you're going to have something special." I think everyone did these three things that day....and that made it something very special. A day that will be remembered forever by all those involved. basketball made us all happy that day.......just as it should every day. | "Together"
26: Kristen Madigan wanted to hear nothing of canceling the Parochial League Tournament. "We have to play" is what she told SMMS AD Margaret Henebery.... and play-on they did. With heavy hearts and in front of a standing room only crowd in an atmosphere that was both emotional and electric, Jenna and her teammates played a game that will be long remembered. | One Shining Moment
27: 2011-2012 Girls JV Tournament Semi-Final SMMS 44 Mt. Carmel 22 "Jenna's Game" | With strength, courage and a lot of love and support from her teammates, family, friends and even the opponents; Jenna played a game on the toughest day of her life....she fought and battled ....leading her team into the Championship game by scoring a game-high 13 points.
28: The Game
32: Going into this game, I knew it was going to be a battle. SSPP was a far better team than they were when we pounded them on their home court at the beginning of the year. I knew they would be ready and I knew they wanted this game like no other. For years, they were the top dog in the league. They were the team that nobody wanted to play and we were the team that that everybody wanted to play. Well, the tide had turned and they didn't like the way the current was flowing. Unfortunately for them, the current was way to strong. It was our time and our girls were not going to be denied. By midway through the 3rd quarter, this game was an all-out war. Each team traded baskets and tough defensive stands. The only coaching that could be done was to keep telling the girls to "keep fighting". In the huddle during timeouts in the fourth quarter, all I could tell the girls was how great they were playing and to "keep fighting". What made this group so unique....so special...was that they understood completely what they were involved in. Someone was in their house trying to take from them everything they had worked so hard for all year long....and they would have none of it. They fought and battled like warriors; imposing their will and "refuse to lose" mentality on SSPP. The SSPP parents and fans were into the game like I had never seen. The "Palace on Buckingham Street" was the loudest I had ever heard it.......and all over the excitement being provided by two girls grammar school JV basketball teams. The atmosphere was like that of and NVL title game or a Big East Championship game. It was by far the greatest game I had ever been involved in.....as a player or coach. If were to never coach another basketball game in my life, I will be able to say that I coached the most amazing group of girls in the greatest basketball game ever. | Each time I take a step back and think about this game, I think about things that happened and things our girls did that not only make me further realize what a special group they are, but make me wonder if they were each playing with an "Angel" on their shoulders. Was there an Angel sitting on Julia's shoulder in the third quarter when she stole the ball under the SSPP basket and raced all the way up the baseline and made the layup? It wasn't that she was able to dribble the length of the court and make a layup, it was that she did it by dribbling with her left hand. Was there an Angel sitting on her shoulder screaming in a familiar voice "Go, Go, Go!, Go Julia Go!". It's tough to think that there wasn't. In the second quarter, our "Gentle Giant" Nicole entered the game and blocked two SSPP shots on the same position under the SSPP basket. "Jump", shouted the Angel......"Jump Nicole!" Forget about scoring points. It was one of the biggest plays of the game for us defensively and it stopped SSPP from gaining any momentum. | The Game | The Angel
33: Alexa Gallino very well could have been the MVP of this game and she didn't even score a single point. About midway through the second quarter, Erin picked up her third foul. I had no idea what to do and Coach Bob was not there to offer his advice as he had to leave prior to the start of the game because his father was gravely ill in the hospital. I turned to Kevin Dunn and asked, almost hopelessly, "What do I do now?". His response,...."Put Alexa on her (Century McCarthey)...have her shadow her all over the court." Giving up at least a foot in height; she didn't just stay with her, she limited McCarthey to just 1 field goal from the middle of the 2nd quarter through the end of the third quarter. It was an unbelievable defensive performance. Surely there was an Angel on her shoulder. Just before half-time, Julia dove for a loose ball and had the presence of mind to slap the ball ahead to Gabbie; who raced up court for a layup and was fouled on the play. She made the free throw to complete the 3-point play. Thinking about it now, I could almost visualize the Angel pushing Julia's arm to the ball and then riding Gabbie's coattail to the basket. Midway through the fourth quarter, Julia got slammed to the ground underneath the SSPP basket while fighting for a loose ball. The sound of her body hitting the floor was so loud that the entire gym gasped. She came up crying and holding her elbow. While I thought it may be broken, "I'm not coming out" is what she told me emphatically. Any other kid, on any other team, would have been finished for the day. Not one of our girls.....not Julia. "Get up!" screamed the Angel......"Get up!" With 44 seconds remaining and down by a basket, we called timeout. I had no idea what to tell the girls. It just seemed like the right thing to do at the time; because that's what coaches do with 44 seconds left, with the ball, and down by a bucket....you call a timeout Well, as our girls walked back onto the court, Jenna looked up into the rafters and pleaded to her Angel, "C'mon Dad!......C'mon!!". On the very next play, Maddy McKenna made the biggest play of her career and probably the biggest basket of our year when she grabbed a weak-side offensive rebound, made the layup, and was fouled on the play. "And One!!!!" screamed the Angel......"And One!!!!" Maddy made the free throw to complete the 3-point play. It gave us the lead.....a lead we would not relinquish. If Jenna was looking for a sign.....this had to be it. As great as she is, we all know Gabbie knows that you don't get your name in the paper playing defense; but she secured the Championship by making the biggest steal of the year with 10 seconds to play. "Go get it Gabbie!" screamed the Angel......"Go get it!" as Gabbie stepped into the passing lane along the bench-side baseline and grabbed the ball. This was the game Gabbie showed what a truly great player she is. She did everything. I have never been one to believe that God bestows his blessing more on one athlete or team than another. He didn't show up at the game that day and say, "I think I'll bless SMMS today and not SSPP". I do feel though, that someone or something "divine" had their hand over our girls. I just think that our girls believed so much in themselves that day and after what they had gone through emotionally that week, the power to succeed was offered to them, not given to them, and they accepted the offer and ran with it.........with a little help from an Angel of course.
34: Parochial League Champions
36: 2nd Place St. Peter & Paul. We defeated them 4 times during the course of the year....42-17, 49-41, 28-21, and 38-37. They definitely closed the gap, but they weren't enough for our girls. As the saying goes, "To play with us you've got to be good. To stay with us you've got to be tough. To beat us,....you've got to be kidding."
37: SMMS JV Lady Cougars, Parochial League Champions and a perfect 21-0 heading into the State Tournament
40: Julia and Jenna made the 2011-2012 Parochial League All Tournament Team along with Gabbie and Maddy
42: The State Championship Tournament
45: Championship Game Support | With a perfect record , a State Championship, and a trip to the New England Regionals on the line, the fans came out in droves to support the girls.........and they came through like champions!
46: Holding hands ..... this became a common theme during tournament play for our girls. 12 girls, 1 team . . . . the make-up of a Champion.
47: The State Championship Time to "Settle the Madness" | Corpus Christi is a perennial basketball powerhouse. Up until this day, they had no "real" idea what a "powerhouse" was..... The players, the fans, the attitude, the "grit" ..... we brought it all that day. We "settled the madness".
48: The ball is tipped and there you are you're running for your life you're a shooting star And all the years no one knows just how hard you worked but now it shows... in One Shining Moment, It's all on the line One Shining Moment, There frozen in time But time is short and the road is long in the blinking of an eye ah that moment's gone And when it's done win or lose you always did your best cuz inside you knew... that One Shining Moment, You reached deep inside, One Shining Moment, You knew you were alive | Feel the beat of your heart feel the wind in your face it's more than a contest it's more than a race... And when it's done win or lose you always did your best cuz inside you knew... that One Shining Moment, You reached for the sky One Shining Moment, You knew One Shining Moment, You were willing to try, One Shining Moment.... | "One Shining Moment"
49: That | One Shining Moment ........
51: SMMS 42 Corpus Christi 28 | State Champions!!!! 24 - 0
56: Cover Stories
58: New England Championship Tournament Burlington, VT | New England Championship Tournament St. Mary Magdalen (CT) vs. St. Raphael (Boston)
59: Our 1st Round opponent was Boston. We didn't really know what to expect with this draw. To be a little school from a little town like Oakville and see "Boston" up on the board can be a little intimidating. Not to our girls! Boston was just another "victim-in-waiting".
60: Quarter Final Round SMMS 38 St. Raphael 23
61: This game was not as close as the final score would indicate. We were definitely the more talented team and were never really threatened. Our full court press was just too much for St. Raphael to handle. It was nice to get the bench some playing time as it's not too often you get to play in the New England Tournament. What was even nicer were the compliments we started receiving after dismantling this team. I started to get the feeling that we had the most talented team in the tournament and that we had a great chance to win this thing; but as my old grammar school coach told me....it's tough playing on the road in these tournaments. ... especially when there is a team playing on its own home court. How right he was.
62: We were simply too strong and too fast for St. Raphael. Our girls smelled their prey and pounced on it. The team from Boston didn't stand a chance against our press and they couldn't stop the turnovers which led to easy buckets.
64: The End...... | This was a tough pill to swallow. We were clearly the better team. There was no doubt in anyone's mind. Our girls battled like champions. There were just some factors that didn't work in our favor (see photos on next page)....and they had nothing to do with our girls' talent, effort, heart, passion or performance. It's tough as coaches when your players have the look of helplessness on their faces when they come off the court. As coaches you feel helpless because you just don't have the answers. Most in attendance didn't feel that the players determined the outcome of the game, but that was the hand we were dealt and something we just had to live with. They played their hearts out...left everything on the court and for that coach Bob and I feel like they are the "true" champions.
66: Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Senator Rob Kane and Representative Sean Williams welcomed the girls at the State Capitol to recognize them for their great accomplishments.
67: Senator Kane introduced the team on the floor of the Senate and Representative Williams did the same in the House of Representatives. A very nice gesture on the part of our lawmakers to recognize the girls for their hard work and determination.
68: Meghan, Alexa, Gabbie, Julia, Grace, Elise
69: Nicole, Emily, Erin, Maddy, Katie, Jenna
72: Erin Katie Meghan Elise | Alexa Emily Gabbie Maddy | Julia Nicole | Grace Jenna
73: The Team | This was an amazing group of girls. They were everything a coach could ask for and then some. 1 through 12, they were all special in their own way and they all brought something important to the team. They were a coach's dream.
74: Maddy Elise Emily Katie Alexa Erin Grace Gabbie Julia Jenna Nicole Meghan
76: Meghan | 30
77: Grace | 31
78: Katie | 20
79: Emily | 15
80: Alexa | 22
81: Elise | 15
82: Nicole | 32
83: Maddy | 34
84: Jenna | 21
85: Erin | 35
86: Julia | 2
87: Gabbie | 23
89: 2011-2012 Scoring Leaders Points Avg. Gabbie Dunn 356 13.69 Julia Mecca 233 8.96 Jenna Madigan 138 5.30 Erin Goggin 133 5.11 | Most Points (Single Game) Gabbie Dunn 25 vs. Mt. Carmel Gabbie Dunn 21 vs. SSPP Gabbie Dunn 21 vs. Mt. Carmel Gabbie Dunn 18 vs. BSS Julia Mecca 18 vs. SSPP Gabbie Dunn 17 vs. BSS Gabbie Dunn 16 vs. SSPP Julia Mecca 16 vs. SSPP Julia Mecca 16 vs. BSS | Team Statistics * Record: 25-1 * Most Consecutive Wins: 25 * Total Points Scored: 1049 * Average Points. Per Game: 40.35 * Total Points Allowed: 506 * Opponent Avg. Per Game: 19.46 * Average margin of Victory: 20.89 * Most Points Scored Single Game: 52 * Largest Margin of Victory: 40 (vs. St. Bridget's) * Games Won By More Than 20 Points: 14 * Free Throws: 73/195 (37%) | Tournament Results 2011 SSPP Holiday Tournament Champions 2011-2012 Parochial League Regular Season Champions 2011-2012 Parochial League JV Tournament Champions 2011-2012 Archdiocese of Hartford CT State Champions 2011-2012 New England Tournament Semi-Finalist | Individual and Team Statistics
91: 2011-2012 SMMS JV "Lady" Cougars
92: Signatures & Messages | To the best team ever!! I will never forget you. Thank you for playing with passion and heart. For that you will always be Champions. -Coach Dave
93: Signatures & Messages