It was in mid-September when I saw Holy Trinity’s volleyball team lose, 3-1, at New London.
At the time, the Crusaders were 5-3.
They’ll be at the state tournament in a couple of months, I thought.
The one thing that made me think that was, well, it’s Holy Trinity.
Was this a young team? Certainly. But there was talent.
And there’s a culture there that means more than anything.
Coach Melissa Freesmeier wasn’t too angry that night, at least in the post-game interview.
She knew it was Sept. 12, that the state tournament in Cedar Rapids was in two months, and a lot can happen in two months.
Of course, in mid-November, there’s Holy Trinity back at the state tournament for the 10th consecutive season, making it to the semifinals before getting swept by Wapsie Valley.
What’s interesting about all of these Holy Trinity teams in the past decade is that, by the time the Crusaders get to late October, there’s a been-there-done-that feeling even if some of those players haven’t been there or done that. But they’ve watched, and learned.
Culture builds a foundation, and Holy Trinity’s strong culture has built something that every team every season wants to add to, because it’s what they do.
I thought this was a Holy Trinity team that could get to state, but it would take a lot of work in three days to win a title, and maybe this team was too young for that. However far they went would go a long way toward next season.
So many of the key pieces from this 29-win team will be back. The Crusaders lose five seniors, but with every match I saw a deep bench watching, and learning.
Every team is different, of course, in high school sports. But those programs with a consistent culture put together the run that Holy Trinity has constructed in a decade.
Freesmeier has coached long enough to know that seasons don’t die in September. One loss on a night in a road match against a rival is just a lesson, not a sentence.
Holy Trinity saw New London twice more during the season, beating the Tigers in the SEI Superconference tournament pool play, and then in the regional final.
Holy Trinity lost just one set in its last six victories. The stay in Cedar Rapids was one day less than what the Crusaders wanted.
They’ll be back.
That’s the culture.
John Bohnenkamp contributes weekly columns and high school sports coverage for Pen City Current