|The Honor System|
Coaching in any small, one stop light town can be a slippery slope to navigate. Success does not make it any easier. In comes with “the support” in a community that gages its collective worth over the performance of teenagers. The coach played this kid too much, this kid not enough, this kid the coach subbed into the wrong position, or put her in at the most inopportune wrong time. The coach was rude to a member of the board or the president of the Booster Club. They were just offering good advice. The coach is too soft about this and not hardnosed enough about that. The coach should have scheduled this team, shouldn't have scheduled that team. You get the picture: Gene Hackman at the Hoosier’s Barber Shop meeting. The prairie of west central Illinois is dotted with towns like this, where high school sports are embraced as the main social activity and musty gymnasiums are the centers of community life. Payson has had its share of such intense scrutiny.
| L to R Cassie Eidson, Riley Epperson, |
Lauryn Hinthome and Tori Schieferdecker
This type of action is not unusual in small towns. Some will scream “unfair.” A like number will scream “about time.” Often the ones caught in the middle and eventually scarred by the decisions of adults are the student-athletes. I wanted to visit Payson to see how the Lady Indian volleyball team had endured over the past two seasons. It turns out, quite well: 80 wins against four losses and and the school’s first state championship in any sport.
|Coach Teresa Loos-Tendrow|
| Game action against |
the Western Wildcats
Coach Loos-Tendrow stresses the mental aspect of the game. “We are devoting practice time this year to making the mental aspect of the game a big part of our development," the coach says. "It is so important. Practice is 90% physical and 10% mental. But games are 10% physical and 90% mental. That is not only true in volleyball but also in life. You have to be mentally tough. You have to have a short memory. Forget about a mistake. Focus on what you can do now.”
Lauryn Hinthome has seen the value of this year’s focus and stresses patience. “It is a process,” she says. “We are now still learning to play with each other and experiment with different lineups.”
The animosity felt towards the bigger neighbor has deep historical roots that predate any claims to hoops superiority.
| First round action in |
the Lady Suns Classic,
held in Augusta, IL