Victory from the Stands

Ali Schuchmann, Sports Writer

The girl is standing at the free throw line with 4.1 seconds left in the semifinal game. She looks up at the scoreboard: Xavier 36, Dallas Center Grimes 38. The stadium is roaring and her team’s fans are optimistically holding their breath. She takes a deep breath and lets the first free throw roll off her fingertips. Swish. The other team calls a timeout. She comes back after the timeout knowing the game rests in her hands. Shot number two is up and swish. The stadium goes wild. The team jumps for joy as they prepare for overtime. This is just one of the noteworthy moments that happened at the Iowa Girls State Basketball Tournament during the Xavier Saints Girls Basketball Team’s journey to becoming state champions. To claim the title, they defeated Central DeWitt in the Quarterfinals 62- 55, Dallas Center Grimes 55-50 in the Semifinal and finally Bishop Heelan in the Championship 54-40. Junior Kyla Mason was placed on the all tournament team and freshman Libby Fandel was awarded the All tournament team captain. “Receiving this award feels amazing, but I could not have gotten there without my team,” Fandel said. At the beginning of the season, it is almost impossible to identify how well a team will do during the season. With outside factors such as injury, seeding and overall team chemistry, every team has potential, but there is alway risk. Xavier Girls Basketball Head Coach Tom Lilly shared the team’s secret to success. “No one truly knows the success or failure of their team. We felt this team’s senior and junior class coming together would be competitive. Sprinkle in some under class players to fill in the cracks and there you go,” Lilly said. “Staying overall healthy makes a huge difference as well. Unless these guys had me fooled, they enjoyed each other’s company. They always believed in themselves and in each other.” One thing that is undeniable is that, way beyond wins and losses there is vital support from parents. From cheering in the stands to after game high fives, their encouragement is a necessity for the team’s success. Senior Mary Kate Moeder’s mom, Kathy Moeder, was awarded the Iowa Farm Bureau Sportsmanship Award. This is awarded to one fan from each school that participated in the state tournament who presents outstanding sportsmanship and behavior that represents the entire school and community. “It was an extremely special moment sharing the court with my mom that day and witnessing her receiving that honor. It truly is a moment that I will cherish forever. This award reflects everything that my mom stands for and believes in. She is the kind of person that always puts others before herself and strives to make a difference in the lives of those around her,” Mary Kate said. “I know for a fact that she feels very blessed and grateful to have been chosen for this award, and she has so much love and passion in her heart for the entire Xavier community that has shown her and my family so much support.” Kathy has been a long time Saints supporter with both her son Kyle Moeder (X19) and Mary Kate. Throughout the years she has left her mark and those around her will never forget. “I was kinda in shock. I think so many people in the Xavier stands deserve that award. When I see those girls (or any Xavier athlete or member of an activity) out there working hard and competing, I want them to know their efforts are appreciated,” Kathy said. “I love watching these kids represent Xavier! Their drive, dedication, and determination are amazing! I will always cheer for XHS anywhere and everywhere. I am honored and grateful to be given the title ‘Super Fan’!” Kathy’s support for the team does not go unnoticed. Her impact has affected many other players and even the coaches in her past four years in the program. “Having a person with her faith and passion has truly been a blessing. Every parent has such a major impact on their child’s development. Her strength has been passed to everyone in the program. Enthusiasm on steroids,” Lilly said. Senior Maddie Steger, who has played with Mary Kate since elementary school, agrees that Kathy was the perfect representation and recipient of the award. “I’ve been playing with Mary Kate since 5th grade. I remember Kathy traveling with us to tournaments and she was always so fun and had great energy. I love the support she shows towards the team. She was the team mom for everyone and took care of all of us. I’ll always have great love and appreciation for all that Kathy does for the team and making us feel so special,” Steger said. The Saints Girls Basketball Team is already preparing for next season in hopes that their success can continue. With the continuous work and dedication from the players, coaches and parents, there is no doubt that the Saints can do it again.