Drawing inspiration from Mother Teresa’s example of doing small things with great love, the Holy Family softball team carried an unwavering passion in their efforts this season.
“No matter what we do, we’re going to do it with great love,” said junior Noelle Gardon.
Head Coach Mitchell Martinez motivated his team before games using the saint’s famous motto.
“We would go into the huddle and Mitch would be like, ‘What kind of love?’ We’d all go, ‘Great love!’” said senior Erin Winters.
That love for their sport led the team to the state championship game this past season, where they defeated Mountain View High School 10-3.
“It was so surreal,” said Winters. “It still doesn’t feel real.”
The team made history for Holy Family, bringing home the first 4A state title since the school moved up to the division a few years ago.
“Our goal was never to win state,” said senior Sara Rode. “Our goal every year is just to get to state. We took it a game at a time, and soon enough we were in the championship game.”
The team’s vision for their season was simple, said junior Anna Martinez.
“No one ever really thought about losing,” she said. “It was one game at a time. We were just playing.”
The team prayed before games and after practices and attended Mass together during their season. That foundation of faith helped them realize “the bigger picture,” said Gardon. “We know that there’s more [to life] than this one game or this one season.”
Gardon added that sometimes faith plays a subtler role in a season.
“It’s definitely something you can look back on after and think about where it helped you or where you needed more of it in a game,” she said.
Gardon, Martinez, Rode and Winters all attended Catholic grade schools, and although they sometimes played on opposing teams growing up, they’ve enjoyed coming together to represent Holy Family.
“It’s better because we know that we’re not playing for ourselves,” said Rode. “We’re playing for everyone around us.”
“Having a bond with everyone — you believe in everyone,” she said. “There’s trust everywhere. If someone’s having a bad day, you know that you have other people behind you and someone’s going to pick you up.”
Looking back at their season, it’s the memories both on and off the field the girls will cherish moving forward.
“If I could go back and replay this season, 100 times out of 100 times I would,” said Winters.
The team remembers the state final like they remember much of their regular season games — a tough battle until the end.
“We were up 3-0, and they came and hit two home runs and tied it,” said Rode. “None of us broke. We came back and scored seven runs.”
The girls are proud of what they accomplished for their school.
“Everything just fell into place and it felt right,” said Gardon. “It felt like we had all the tools, and we worked so hard and did everything in our capability.
“We knew our goal and we did what we knew we needed to do to achieve it,” she said.