The Hoosac Valley Lady Canes cheer after a play last season. The Western Mass champs, with many returning players, are headed to a tournament in Disney World.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — When the Hoosac Valley High School girls basketball team won the Western Massachusetts sectional title in March, no one stuck a television camera in the Hurricanes' faces and asked where they were going next.
Turns out, they could have said, "We're going to Walt Disney World."
Thanks to Hoosac's performance last year and the fact that so many of its players were coming back, the 'Canes were strong enough to garner the attention of KSA Events, the promoter that holds an annual high school tournament in Orlando, Fla., at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports.
"They asked us if we were interested in going down and playing," Hoosac coach Ron Wojcik said. "They explained everything to me — that you come down, you play two or three games, you get to play against teams from other states and stay in the parks and everything.
"I said, 'Gee, it sounds great. How do you afford to do that?' "
The answer: The teams raise the money to pay for the trip. In Hoosac's case, it was going to cost about $20,000.
The good news is that these Hurricanes turned out to be as tenacious off the court as fund-raisers as they were on the court as banner-raisers.
"The biggest one was we hosted — when they had the Wilco event at Mass MoCA — the camp sites here, and we had like, I want to say 85 to 100 camp sites," Wojcik said. "I think we got like $100 per camp site. That gave us a good start.
"We solicited donations from companies and got a lot of donations in. We did a fundraising dinner at the Old Forge. I think we made a couple of thousand there. The Old Forge was very generous to us.
"We made over $1,000 the first bottle and can drive. We did another one in November and made another $1,800 to $2,000 on that — which is a lot of bottles and cans."
All that hard work pays off this week when the Hurricanes fly south the day after Christmas for two days of competition — and a little R&R — at Disney World.
Wojcik said the team will land on Thursday evening, grab a meal at the resort hotel and hit the sack early.
"We're playing at 8, so we're going to get up early, get to the gym at 7, work out for a half hour, 45 minutes before the game," he said. "The downside of playing early is playing early, but then you have the rest of the day. Then we don't play again until 3:45 the next day."
Hoosac plays Trimble County from Kentucky on Friday morning and Austintown Fitch of northwest Ohio on Saturday afternoon.
"We're bigger, probably than the Trimble school, but we're much smaller than Austintown in Ohio," Wojcik said. "It's a D-1 school, and I know they have a player going to D-1 [University of] Akron. So there will be some challenges there for us.
"But we looked at it as a great opportunity to play some other teams, play up competitionwise, and certainly a great experience for the kids."
Update at 5:56 p.m. on Dec. 27: Because of a flight delay, the team didn't get into Florida until after midnight. The change in schedule put them up against a team from Merritt Island, Fla., whom they defeated 70-22.