Groton, Mass. — Being close to the court (rink, field, mat), the game-within-the-game becomes clearer, particularly regarding interactions between coaches and players.
Most of the time coaches endeavor to motivate (in many, many ways), but sometimes they simply celebrate the fantastic achievements of their charges.
As the Spartans completed their first successful set during their eventual 3-0 win over Governor’s on Sunday, some cards came into view via Head Coach Steve Engstrom; cards announcing how close Gabi Bailey ’19 was to breaking the 1000 “kill” marker for her high school career.
Casually held aloft, the cardboard ticked up to the significant milestone, alerted the partisan home crowd to impending collective memory.
Then, at the beginning of the second set, it happened:
Gabi Bailey ‘19 – heading to @GoPSUsports next year – just got her 1000th high school kill. #GoLASpartans @NEPSAC pic.twitter.com/5pXw9JFoiN
— Lawrence Academy (@lawrenceacademy) November 18, 2018
“Oh gosh,” said a visibly relieved Bailey, postgame. “This is so awesome.
“I couldn’t have done it without all of [my teammates] and they really, really put on a show today.
“It was awesome,” she said. “So exciting.”
Bailey’s memorable play set the tone for the Spartans taking the second and third set — after a very, very tight opening stanza against a tenacious Govs team — en route to the eventual victory and a NEPSAC Class B title for LA.
But then, Gabi setting the tone is certainly no surprise to anyone who has seen her play for Lawrence Academy.
“[Bailey] really has turned around the program,” said Head Coach Steve Engstrom. “She was able to give us the offense that we never had before.
“The fact that she got her thousandth kill here in the finals was – well, it was amazing.”
For her part — and true to form on this team — Bailey passed the praise on to others.
“I knew [what] Dasha was going to do; couldn’t have gotten it without Dosh,” said Bailey of fellow senior Dasha Zhuravleva, who has fed Gabi’s powerful right arm for two seasons. “She’s an awesome setter.
“And with everyone’s passing,” she added, “I just knew I was going to come together.”
However, her teammates were thrilled to see the future Nittany Lion (as Bailey is heading to Penn State next fall) hit the heretofore unexpected milestone.
Coach Engstrom had kept the possibility a secret…
“I did not know that was happening today,” said a laughing senior Spartan standout Nicole Winthrop. “I guess I missed the memo.
“I saw Mr. Engstrom holding up like the 999. I was like, ‘Well what the heck is that?’
“And then she comes out with a 1000 sign; it was so exciting!” she said.
It certainly was, Nicole! It certainly was… Congratulations to Gabi and the entire roster. Mr. B & Mr. G