River Trails Lady Chiefs go an undefeated 49-0
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Forty-nine games, 49 wins. The 14 girls, three team managers and two coaches who make up the River Trails Middle School 7th grade volleyball team wrapped up their season by making history.
"I was blessed with this group of kids," said Coach Wayne Keen, still overjoyed on Monday, three days after Friday's championship. "I was able to get them to buy into what we were trying to do."
Their goal was to win the Mid-Suburban Middle School Athletic Conference. But halfway through the season they hadn't lost a game, and Deen started fantasizing about a perfect season.
With every win, more people got behind the Lady Chiefs and the games got more crowded. Deen was touched, and the girls were energized.
By Friday's season-ending tournament, the Mount Prospect school was an undefeated 39-0. To win the championship they played five matches — each match is a best 2 out of 3 games — and won the first two every time.
Deen, a District 26 tech support specialist, and his assistant coach, Gisele Raube, didn't monkey with success. They started the season playing every girl in every game, and that didn't change.
On Tuesday night, the team and their parents will have their own ceremony and then the River Trails District 26 school board will honor the team at the board meeting.
The girls will get ribbons and a banner will be hoisted inside the gymnasium.
Deen hopes most of the girls will return to the volleyball team in 8th grade. He'll stay with the team in 8th grade, and in 2012-13, he'll start over again with another crop of 7th graders.
A group shot of the team with milk mustaches was the brainchild of the River Trails cafeteria staff, on whose kitchen walls hang "Got milk?" posters of famous people with milk mustaches.
"I told the girls we're ambassadors wherever we go," said Deen.
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