Huntley High state champions feeling the hometown love and now will lead a parade
Huntley High School's Red Raiders softball team has gotten much hometown love since returning with the state championship title this month after a historic 1-0 victory in eight innings against St. Charles East.
It was Huntley High's first state championship and the Red Raiders are the first softball team from the Fox Valley Conference to bring home a state title.
Starting with a police and fire escort and a big reception in the school parking lot, the community has showered the team with attention from the moment students got off the bus with the trophy June 8. The school held a pep rally two days later and the team later was recognized by the McHenry County Board.
"It's a little surreal," said head coach Mark Petryniec, who has coached the softball program for 17 years. "In the big scheme of things, the girls just won a couple of big games against some really good teams. Throughout the whole process, the support from the Huntley community was incredible."
Since the championship win, most of the girls on the team have been playing with travel teams in Indiana, Kansas, and Florida.
"I don't even think they've had a chance to sit down and let it sink in yet," Petryniec said.
More accolades are in the works from the Huntley Community School District 158 and Huntley village boards, which will recognize the team at their July board meetings.
And now, the 2019 Class 4A state champions have the prime spot in the Lake in the Hills' Summer Sunset Festival Parade as grand marshals Aug. 31.
"The kids are really very excited about that," Petryniec said.
A parade announcer will extol the Red Raiders' virtues before thousands of spectators anticipated that weekend. Nearly 30,000 people are expected to attend the three-day festival.
"We're going to have a vehicle for them that (team members) can all ride in together," said Ray Bogdanowski, festival committee chairman and Lake in the Hills village trustee.
The Crystal Lake South High School Gators baseball team received the same honor when it won the Class 4A state title in 2017, he said.
The parade starts at 10 a.m. at Grafton Farm and Miller roads, heads east on Miller for one mile and ends at the corner of Albrecht.
"Most of the people that attend the parade are all from the Huntley school district," Bogdanowski said. "We've always tried to market the Summer Sunset Festival as a community event. What's a better way of showing that than having the community participate in one way or the other."
For more information about the parade and festival, visit summersunsetfest.com.