The last time a Rolling Meadows High School sports team brought home a state trophy was 1995, before most of today's current students were born.
It was a third place trophy for cross country, and the Mustang faithful have celebrated it for 18 years.
This weekend, though, the Rolling Meadows girls basketball team will make its first trip to the state finals in school history.
“This is truly like a dream come true for our kids, coaches, employees and our fans,” said Jim Voyles, girls athletic director.
“Watching this team all season long has reminded us that anything is possible if you're willing to work hard.”
Rolling Meadows will send the team off to Bloomington in style this morning with a 7:45 pep rally.
The team opens the playoffs at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Redbird Arena at Illinois State University, against Huntley High School.
Buses of students will leave Rolling Meadows High School at 3 p.m. Friday to head to Bloomington for the game, said Lisa DaRocha, assistant principal of athletics.
If Rolling Meadows wins, it will play for the 4A championship at 8:15 p.m. Saturday. If the Mustangs lose Friday, they will play for third place at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
DaRocha said the athletic office was busy Thursday with people buying $10 tickets to the game and signing up to ride the fan buses.
“It brings a whole different meaning to school spirit. Everyone is so extremely excited,” she said.
For fans who can't go downstate, www.ihsa.tv will be streaming the games live.
Some of the excitement might stem from the rarity of Rolling Meadows teams making it to the state finals.
Rolling Meadows High School has two state championships, both in girls archery in 1978 and 1980, when RMHS was the undisputed state powerhouse in the sport.
Voyles said the girls basketball team is aware of the lack of championships in school history, but he doubts it is weighing on the players.
“I don't think they realize how historic it is,” Voyles said. “They are just excited to play the actual game, but I don't think they're worried about or understand really the magnitude of this.”
But the rest of the school understands the implications, he added.
“Schools with a lot of success might get numb to it, but we are kind of numb to not having that success so now we don't even really know how to act,” he said. “We're in uncharted territory here.”
It is also a sweet ending to head coach Ryan Kirkorsky's first year with the team — he was at Elk Grove High School for the four previous seasons, DaRocha said.
She added that it has been great to get the support from students and the community at both home and away games — with crowds that have grown substantially throughout the season.
“When you see this kind of fan base at a girls basketball game you know we've done something right,” she said.
And while the team may be putting pressure on itself to win it all, DaRocha said no matter how it finishes the community is already proud of this history-making team.
“They have the most wins in school history, they won a sectional championship for the first time, so now it's all icing on the cake,” she said. “But they're not done yet and they don't want to be done.”
Win or lose, the team will be welcomed back with a rally at school on Monday to celebrate the season.
“I don't know if I've seen a group of girls that are just so determined and work extremely hard,” DaRocha said. “They fight for each other, they work so well together, and that has set them apart this year.”
• Daily Herald staff writer John Leusch contributed to this report.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.