Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
Coach has been in the minds of Bulldog players
By Gary R. Rasberry
ELIDA - Just like usual, the Celina girls soccer team went through its traditional postgame rituals after Monday's 1-all match at Elida.
The handshake line with Elida players, the two teams praying at the midfield circle, and the team meeting after the game.
The team meeting took a little extra meaning last night. A phone call was made to the one person that has been on the team's collective mind the last couple of days.
Bulldogs coach Calvin Freeman was at home Monday night after spending several days in the hospital after suffering a pair of heart attacks last Wednesday.
"It was the best feeling ever," said Celina senior goalkeeper Allison Braun on the call to Freeman. "Just being able to talk to him and let him know we did this for him and were still first (in the WBL standings). It's a good feeling.
His response after getting the score?
"He said that it wasn't a win, but we're still in there," said senior Cayla Hellwarth with a laugh, a reference to Celina still being unbeaten in WBL play at 4-0-1 after the tie
The team was informed Thursday morning of Freeman's condition.
"They've been up and down," said Celina assistant coach Wendy Mitchell-Payne. "We called them in. I reminded them of what Cal believes in. He believes in their strength and teamwork and determination. His desire was for them to win the WBL. He wouldn't expect anything less from them (than) practicing hard every day and playing hard while he was gone."
The girls practiced Thursday and Friday before playing their first match without Freeman on the sidelines, winning 3-2 over Bellefontaine.
"The only thing I told them was they needed to trust me and we would all do this together," said Mitchell-Payne. "They knew what they needed to do and they maintained a positive attitude."
The team stayed close the last couple of days, holding a team dinner on Sunday.
"We've been trying to get together as much as possible," said Braun. "So everybody could be together and pick each other up. It's just important that we came together as a team at the right moment. The team dinner was just for us to get together, pick each other up and build more team unity than we already had."
"With everything that happened with Coach, everybody just came together," said Hellwarth. "We need to hold it through for us and for Coach, because we know we can pull through this. He's just been a big motivation since this happened."
The prognosis for Freeman im-proved over the weekend. Instead of bypass surgery, stents were implanted, allowing Freeman to return home.
"It was very important," said Braun. "It helped bring us back up. After his heart attack, everyone was down. Saturday everybody was still down. but knowing he's home and doing better, everyone's pumped and ready for him now."
The goal of winning the WBL title is more prevalent in their minds.
"They know that the WBL-winning coach gets WBL Coach of the Year," said Mitchell-Payne. "They want him to get Coach of the Year, whether he's here or not here. They're excited to know he's back home. He expects to return next week."
"He wants to get back as soon as he can," said Hellwarth. "He's really working on it. He's excited. He mentioned he wants to be back for our game next Tuesday against O-G (Ottawa-Glandorf, which could clinch the WBL for Celina with a win). We're praying for him and hoping he gets back."