The Benton Lady Tigers are staying at the Holiday Inn in Sulphur and the girls’ doors are decorated with their names and jersey numbers.
The North DeSoto Lady Griffins had their team bus, “the redneck Greyhound,” professionally painted with slogans like “Fear None – Respect All.”
The Calvary Lady Cavs were greeted with road signs along I-49 wishing them well and the team planned to wear T-shirts bearing the slogan “10 Feet Tall & Bullet Proof,” into Sulphur’s Frasch Park.
Evangel’s Lady Eagles were forced to endure quirky inspirational speeches throughout the week by freshman Sarah Opbroek and eighth-grader Leanna Cooper.
High school coaches, administrators, parents and cheerleaders look for any edge they can to fire-up and motivate their teams after a long season that will culminate with LHSAA state tournament contests in Sulphur this weekend. For the four Shreveport-Bossier area teams, motivation isn’t difficult.
Evangel gets things started with a noon contest against No. 1 John Curtis, while Calvary follows at 2 p.m. against Delcambre. North DeSoto and Benton face off at 6 p.m. in a battle of the co-champions of District 1-4A. All first-round games are Friday with the losers going home and the winners advancing to semifinal and possibly championship contests on Saturday.
Coming up with ideas that are easy to pull off, while being unique and worth the effort isn’t always easy. The Lady Tigers considered getting their hair purplized by Chelsea Rangel’s mother, but the idea was nixed as a distraction. Although Benton coach Michelle Owens was unable to secure a chartered bus for the 4-hour trip south, the players received goodie bags replete with snacks, treats and softball items and made the ride in private cars.
“All of our administration and a lot of people in the community came out at 7:45 to wish us well,” Owens said.
“It was awesome.”
North DeSoto Athletic Director Scott Abernathy treated his softball team to breakfast at Stonewall’s Brickhouse Café, owned by Janice Fontenot Motley, before the team rolled out of town Thursday morning.
“The girls received candy or treats every day this week with a saying associated with the treat – an example is a bottle of Crush with a tag ‘Crush’em!'” said North DeSoto coach Lori McFerren.
The Lady Eagles wrote verses on posters and also received goodie bags, but the talks by the underclassmen were taken with a grain of salt.
“Sarah starts yelling and talking about soaring. You don’t really understand what she says, but she gets us pumped up,” Evangel senior Shelby Salley said. “She makes us clap 63 times because she says we’re going to run-rule them 63 times, which isn’t even possible.”
Cooper used the analogy of a lawn mower in her speech to the Lady Eagles.
“Leanna talks about how the engine is the seniors and without the engine, there can’t be a lawn mower,” Salley said laughing. “And without the wheels, which are the sophomores, it can’t go. Somehow it’s tied into winning state. We do silly things like that, but it gets us pumped up.”
Calvary apparently has a host of creative personnel to help the Lady Cavs, since their motivational efforts include a burp-a-thon by Marissa Reed and Taylor Hammock, a pre-game dance routine by Lizzy Lafisca, braided hair, stick-on tattoos and T-shirts that will be on display around Frasch Park.
“Before we left, the girls walked down the halls of the middle school and high school with teachers and students cheering for them,” Calvary coach Tiffany Bruton said.
“There have been posters made to hold up down there. Our parents prepared them gift bags with food, a personalized water bottle, hotel kit, eye black with glitter in it.”
Owens is hoping she doesn’t have second thoughts about disallowing the hair-painting effort, but she is hoping the in-dugout drumming of several freshmen, along with junior Savannah Collo, can continue at the state tournament.
“They have different cadences and it’s really a big thing for us,” Owens said. “We had some monogrammed towels for them to wear during the playoffs, but the umpires disallowed them in our first game. I hope we are able to do the drumming.”