People, team make Flashes special group

CHAMPION — Anytime someone talks about a great team, it is generally always about the players and coaches.

As important as those things are to the on-field product, parents and fans play just as important, if not more important, of a role for the Champion Golden Flashes.

In the last 10 years, the Champion community has rallied around all its sports but especially for spring sports. In some communities, spring sports are an afterthought. Not in Champion, where the Golden Flashes’ softball team is again in the state semifinals, playing Richwood North Union at 12:30 p.m. today.

“It’s great,” catcher Gabby Hollenbaugh said. “When we come home from games, the roads are lined up with people waving to us. It is such a great feeling having those people support us. Last year when the boys and girls came home, it was crazy. All these people were crowding us and were so excited.”

For any team at any school, support from outsiders is important. For Champion, it is just something that the community does without thinking.

“It is so surreal,” Champion senior Kiersten Jones. “I know some of these girls have done this three times, but just being back twice is awesome. All the people’s support has been awesome. I’ve missed this a lot. I was at last year’s state game and I missed it so much.”

Jones didn’t play her sophomore and junior years due to extenuating circumstances off the field.

She’s back, which is key because all of these pieces are what make this entire team what it is.

“We’ve all played with each other for a long time and we are used to each other,” second baseman Carli Swipas said. “Most schools don’t get to do that, so they have to get used to each other in high school. It’s pretty cool because we are all so close and know each other so well. I like to see everyone come out and support us. I think that motivates us because the entire community is behind us.”

Swipas also said it’s cool for everyone to come out game after game and support the team each and every year.

“It’s just incredible that parents and even people that have never had a kid play before will come out and support us and the boys,” Champion coach Cheryl Weaver said. “It’s just so nice to see all that purple and gold everywhere we go to play.”