Hurricanes Continue Tradition of Excellence

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires.com Sports
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Looking at the sea of red that consumed one side of Springfield College’s Blake Arena on Saturday morning, it was easy to think that every basketball fan in Adams and Cheshire made the trip to watch the Hoosac Valley girls play in their fourth straight state title game.
 
But they didn’t.
 
And that was just fine with Hurricanes coach Ron Wojcik.
 
“We would have had a lot of kids here today but all our younger teams are on the Cape today,” Wojcik said after Saturday’s loss to Archbishop Williams in the state final. “All those kids would have been here normally except they're playing in a tournament out there.
 
“We have a great feeder system, AAU program, travel teams and coaches down below us do a great job. We're getting a lot of kids every year who have a lot of great skills. That's given us the continuity to keep this going.”
 
Many of those youngsters who spent this weekend on the Cape spent the prior Saturday at the Cage watching Hoosac Valley win its fifth straight Western Mass title. All of them have followed the Hurricanes’ exploits and attended home games in Cheshire.
 
And most of them aspire to be just where Hoosac seniors Fallon Field and Kailynne Frederick were on Saturday morning -- lacing up their shoes and preparing to contend for a state championship.
 
“I've always been one to lead by example, more,” Field said. “I think if you walk on the court, you don't deserve to be on it. Every day at practice and every game, I go out and I work hard and I fight for everything. I think younger girls on our team see that and think, 'I need to do that, too. I need to have her back.' “
 
Wojcik pointed to his team’s two seniors and all the Hurricanes as leaders for the next wave of players who will carry on the tradition at Hoosac Valley.
 
“Yeah, I think these younger kids seeing the older kids -- and they look up to them as icons,” he said. “They're high school players, but as far as those younger kids are concerned, they're WNBA players, really. They look at these girls like they can't do anything wrong. And Fallon and Kay have been great role models not only for our team but for the kids coming up through the system.”
 
The system has developed into a powerhouse in Western Massachusetts. As Wojcik noted on Saturday, the Hurricanes have gone 16-0 in Western Mass tournament games and state semi-finals over the last four years.
 
Translating that success at the next level has been a challenge, one that was apparent on Saturday as Hoosac lost for the second time in three years to Archbishop Williams, a private school in Braintree going for its sixth state title.
 
“I think if you look at the roster, they have 11 different players from 11 different communities,” Wojcik said. “They may draw from more communities than that. We’re only drawing from three.
 
“They just have more to draw from than we do. We’re a small community, and we bring a certain group of kids. It’s a different playing field.”
 
Fortunately for Hoosac Valley High School, it is drawing from a small community with a rich athletic heritage. The current crop of ‘Canes are adding to that heritage.
 
“I think coming from a small town that has a lot of pride and a huge basketball history - certainly back to the boys programs in the '50s and all through, there's a lot of older people who are really proud of these girls,” Wojcik said. “ It's really rewarding for them as a group and rewarding for us as a high school to have that support.”
 
“It's awesome to have the whole community supporting you and cheering you on no matter what happens,” Field said. “Ever since we were freshmen, they've been following us. They come to all our games, and no matter what happens, they're always there. I think it gives us something to look forward to, even after a loss.”