CARROLL — Although “winning” became an Internet sensation in 2011 thanks to an infamous Charlie Sheen interview, the athletic teams at Bloom-Carroll adhered to the word’s more practical definition during 2011-12.
The Bulldogs almost had across-the-board success, winning Mid-State League-Buckeye Division titles in five sports, claiming three district team championships and taking home various individual awards from the conference, Central District and state.
“Obviously, it was a great year for us,” athletic director Chad Little said. “It’s been exciting. It helps morale in the building when it seems every team is doing well.”
The great year started in the fall, when boys soccer and volleyball won MSL-Buckeye titles, going undefeated in the conference. The volleyball team, led by first-team All-Ohio selection Cassie Hughes, made it to a regional final. Hughes, Kameron Feola (boys soccer) and Amy Anderson (girls soccer) all won MSL-Buckeye Player of the Year in their respective sports.
In the winter, the boys basketball team completed its first 20-0 regular season in school history and won 23 consecutive games before losing in a district final. Junior guard Isaac McGlone and coach Tom Petty were honored with the state player and coach of the year awards in Division III. Freshman Chandler Minnard also qualified for the state meet in wrestling and finished seventh.
“(The success) creates some internal competition,” Little said. “As you move through the year, you kind of set that bar higher. (The next season’s teams) say, ‘Hey. It’s on us to continue that run of success.'”
The year ended with a stellar spring that saw two state qualifiers in track (Maggie Loeffler and Alex Sherman), the baseball team make a return trip to a Division III regional final and the softball team reach the state final.
Bloom-Carroll’s success shadowed that of its conference foe Fairfield Union, which was the only other area school to win two district titles (volleyball, softball).
“It’s always been an athletic school, and I think it will continue to be,” Bulldogs baseball coach Brian Thacker said. “We’ve had lots of success in all of the seasons.”
Bloom-Carroll is the smallest school in the MSL-Buckeye. It is in Division IV for football and Division III for about all other sports. Schools that size tend to have their best athletes in multiple sports, but that’s not the case at Bloom-Carroll.
Of the six Bulldogs to win conference player of the year honors, only Jake Newton (baseball) and Feola participated in another sport this year. Both were on the swim team.
“It used to be odd (to see that). I don’t think it’s odd anymore,” Little said. “I’d love to have a Cassie Hughes or Taran Alvelo back there (playing basketball).”
Little, also Bloom-Carroll’s girls basketball coach, said it’s not only the top athletes specializing in sports. The kids who are not as successful or recognizable are dropping extra activities, too.
“If you’re a one-sport kid, you can really play that sport all year,” Little said.
Despite all the Bulldogs’ success, the school has struggled in what often is the most important sport to Ohioans: Football. The Bulldogs have only eight wins in the past four years, but attitudes are improving with the hiring of coach Phil Mauro.
“There’s some excitement there,” Little said. “Coach Mauro has already started getting that mind set out there. We’re competing in everything else, why can’t football be successful?”
If football program reaches the winning standards of the rest of the school’s programs, it likely will push the community’s already large fan support over the edge. In the meantime, the Bulldogs will just have to enjoy the rest of their widespread success.