If you paused this time last Thursday, the Broken Arrow Tigers boasted a 68-4 record split across their 2019 volleyball and softball rosters.
Fast forward to today, and the respective championships will both live in Edmond after the Edmond Memorial Bulldogs and Edmond North Huskies took back-to-back tournaments from the Tulsa-based favorites.
How’d that happen?
In 1994 Edmond ruptured into three schools. Citing an increase in population, they bursted into their three respective locations. Now rivals — I’d always pondered just how dominant our area would be if we had kept the schools together. What if Bacus and DeGrace were on rotation with Ayubi, and Davis, and Duncan? What if Chartier and Burleson were on the back-line together? We just saw what the McAnally sisters and Heron and Dickson can do, but what if we tossed Minter, and White, and Deramus and Garvie into some Frankenstein-esque lineup. Instead of the purebred-Edmond Bulldogs, or Edmond Huskies, or Wolves, we’re now the Edmond Mutts: A concoction of the best athletes across the state of Oklahoma. Now, sure, even band would have to cut the roster close to five times, but think of the gold balls, Aaron. That’s what I used to tell myself.
This last week has changed my mind.
One thing repeated often in sports is how iron sharpens iron. Watch over your brother, every coach says; Hold them accountable. The context of the “one sharpens another” has always struck me as an occurrence between teammates. But, Edmond teams are showing it’s not about that at all.
I should have been asking a different question: Would these girls be as sharp if they weren’t planted inside Edmond’s 6A power vortex? Not only are they brawling for 6A clout, but also they’re fighting for pride around Edmond. And that includes Deer Creek. Even if we time-travel back to prevent the split in ’94, the explosion of the Antlers on the area scene have added two more talented rosters into the softball and volleyball recipes. Would Dickson be as dominant if she hadn’t spent all year going against the local rosters?
She’s spent all year pitching to the area teams, and any flaw in her game had long been flushed. If she left a mistake floating across the middle of the plate, you know Ritz, or Wells, or Minter and Deramus would have swung into it, just as an iron hammer swings down, violently pummeling impurities from out of the sword.
Sure, the ’Dogs didn’t draw the Tigers in the finals. Instead, Owasso had dropped them in the semifinals. The Rams put seven runs across early on a team that hadn’t lost in Oklahoma all year. Then, the day after, Dickson and the ’Dogs gave up only three hits and two runs in their championship claim against Owasso.
We see the same in volleyball. No unlikely heroes here, though, North drew 38-2 Broken Arrow in Tuesday’s championship. But the Huskies beat them in four sets, behind a balanced team-effort in Jaclyn Burrough’s first-year as a head coach for her alma-mater.
How’d that happen? Broken Arrow had only dropped 13 sets across 40 matches this season. They were — arguably — the most dominant team in 6A’s recent memory. But there was one team that could have debated for that spot. And the five seniors on Burrough’s roster had just spent the better part of the last two years cutting their teeth against them.
Edmond Santa Fe entered the 2019 6A State Tournament as back-to-back defending champions. Last year, they’d only lose thrice across the season (twice to North), while running through both their regional and state tournaments without dropping a single set.
Burleson is one of the best liberos in the state. Does she hit that level if she wasn’t tasked with stopping Kaeli Robinson’s attacks? Broken Arrow didn’t have anything that her and the rest of her crew hadn’t seen tenfold.
What if all these athletes were instead locked into Wednesday inter-squad scrimmages? Is the competition in those as high? We already know the answer. Dogs don’t get bigger arguing over who gets the good spot on the couch. Instead, they get tougher fighting over the rope in the back yard. It should be to no surprise that Edmond’s newest champions won their titles — they’ve been tugging against each other since the very start of August.