Sterling High School Golden Sisters Celebrate Volleyball State Championship

SHS State Champion TeamLast weekend, amidst dismal news reports of natural disasters, mass shootings, and political divisiveness my alma mater, the Sterling High School Golden Warrior girls’ volleyball team, gave us something to celebrate by winning the state championship.  With a 40-1 record overall, they snatched the victory from defending champs Belleville Althoff 25-21, 25-22 in the final at Illinois State University Redbird Arena.

If you watch a few seconds of this video clip, you can see the intensity and unbridled joy that comes from the concentrated team effort needed to reach a state championship – the pinnacle of success in American high school sports.

Sterling’s volleyball program was a family affair. Take solid senior leader Josi Borum add her dynamic twin sisters, Bree and Brook, mix with smashing combo Gretchen and Grace Gould, toss in all-over-the-court libero, Lexi Rodriguez, and you have a recipe for success.

It’s been forty-one years since Sterling won a state championship. In 1977, the Sterling High School Golden Girls team made history by winning the first ever state basketball championship. My younger sister played guard on that team coached by my dad.

Most folks forget that prior to that time, girls weren’t allowed on any court. Without the passage of the 1972 Title IX amendment mandating equal opportunity and ending gender discrimination, girls would still be relegated to the sideline. Title IX gave girls access to athletic scholarships and higher education.

Not surprisingly the SHS volleyball team, like that first state basketball team, won the championship title at the tournament hosted by Illinois State University. In the early 1970s, ISU’s female administrators Dr. Phoebe Scott, Dr. Laura Mabry, coaches Jill Hutchison, and Linda Herman spearheaded committees pushing for legislation at the national level for the advancement of equal opportunities for women.

In the infancy of Title IX, SHS was ahead of its time too providing opportunities when most schools dragged their heels about giving girls a chance. Former SHS athletic director Bob Henard and basketball coaches like Jim McKinzie, Sue SHS 1977 State Champion TeamStrong, and Phil Smith picked up the ball and ran with it by making sure girls could compete on their own teams.

Since then, Sterling once fueled by the steel industry fell on economic hard times. Yet high school sports remained a source of pride and priority thanks to dynamic booster clubs and an altruistic donor by the name of Pete Dillon.

Championship teams are not made in a vacuum. They require the right mix of athletes, opportunity, coaches, community and infrastructure. Sterling provides that foundation.

So I raise my glass to Sterling’s state championship volleyball team. After endless hours of practice, countless road trips and off-season workouts, it’s time to celebrate. Here’s to the athletes, the coaches who trained them, and to their families who provided meals, rides, and emotional support.

Sterling High School Homer Fieldhouse
Sterling High School Homer Fieldhouse

“When we stepped in that 30-by-30 box (our half court in Redbird Arena,) we focused on what we needed to get done,” Sterling’s Coach Dale Dykeman said, “And that mentality of pulling up your bootstraps and going to work with your sisters, it’s a special thing.”

Unbeknownst to you, across the country your older warrior “siblings” are fist bumping and high fiving in solidarity over your success.

Going to work with your sisters

Is a Sterling thing.

It’s forever.

Golden.SHS 2018 State Champion Team

Comments

  1. Kathleen Pooler

    Pat, this victory is something to celebrate. In the midst of all the chaos and tragic events, it’s a reminder that good things can stil happen. Go Sterling Golden Sisters!

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  2. Kathleen Pooler

    Pat, this victory is something to celebrate. In the midst of all the chaos and tragic events, it’s a reminder that good things can stil happen. Go Sterling Golden Sisters!

  3. Barb Wolf-Cotes

    It has been an honor to help coach this team!! Once again I say… “We have great kids doing great things in a great community!” Can’t thank the McKinzie family enough for all you have done for SHS athletics!!

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      Pat McKinzie

      Aww thanks Barb, we may have got the ball rolling, but you have certainly done a lot to keep it alive and in the air. You have dedicated so many years to helping coach SHS teams that I am happy for you that you have this wonderful moment in the limelight. Keep up your great work! And please pass on my heartiest congratulations to your team.

  4. Tina Quick

    Love it! Celebrating women in sports. What a long way girls and women have come thanks to Title IX and programs like Sterling’s.

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      Pat McKinzie

      With all the divisiveness in the world, team sports are so important. Not only for raising self esteem, but also for bringing people together. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Brenda Gould

    Thank you Pat McKinzie and the rest of the original Golden Girls for paving the way. Our girls wore Go!den Girls across the front of their jerseys while playing traveling basketball while growing up. They did this to honor the great teams that came before them. May God Bless the female athletes at SHS past and future!

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      Pat McKinzie

      Thanks for sharing that sweet anecdote about how your girls wore Golden Girls across their jerseys growing up. I hope all of those original golden girls will see this. Congratulations to your daughters and the rest of the state championship volleyball team for an amazing accomplishment. And your role as mom should never be under estimated. Who washed the uniform, made the meal, drove to fixtures, wiped away tears and cheered every step of the way?

  6. Karen Austin

    Woo hoo! It’s a beautiful thing to see the teamwork that happens when athletes compete. Even when teams don’t win, they achieve a lot in forming friendships and developing character. All my best to these student athletes. Thanks for sharing their achievements this season.

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      Pat McKinzie

      Absolutely Karen. Being a part of team is about so much more than the outcome of a game. It is learning how to set goals, overcome setbacks and work together. But when all the pieces fall into place at the right time, magic happens and the memories created will last a lifetime.

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