MINOOKA – There were some tears when the Minooka girls volleyball team got off the bus Sunday after losing in the Class 4A state championship to Marist the previous night.
But athletic director Robert Tyrell and a group of parents and loved ones were there to greet the girls and recognize their success.
This was the second season in a row Minooka made it to the state title match and finished second.
Some team members, especially the seniors and coaches, were emotional upon coming home.
For coach Carrie Prosek, this was an especially difficult moment for her since she has been coaching many of the girls on the senior-led team since they were in junior high school.
“It’s just hard,” Prosek said. “It’s like your kids going off to college, but it’s not my own kid. I will have a special place for them the rest of my life.”
That group includes six players who will continue their volleyball careers at Division 1 colleges. It’s an impressive level the program has reached, Prosek and her team said, being one of the few public schools in the area with this much success.
“Being not really known, we always say that we like being the underdog,” senior outside hitter Rocky Perinar said. “We see it as an advantage because people aren’t expecting us to be as good as these powerhouse schools.”
Tyrell spoke about the number of successes Minooka athletics has achieved in recent years. The girls volleyball team wasn’t the only Minooka team with a big game Saturday; the football team lost its quarterfinal matchup in Edwardsville.
Tyrell also said that even after the football team was done with its game, the boys wanted to stop by Normal on their way home to check up on the volleyball team.
He said that if the situation was reversed, the volleyball team would have wanted to do the same thing.
“We’re just very proud of our community and our kids,” Tyrell said. “[We have] a lot of school spirit and a lot of positive things going on here.”
It’s that sense of community and culture that the team attributes to its success.
Now the graduating seniors are looking for their younger teammates to carry the mantle and build upon the past two seasons.
But Prosek and her seniors will look back on this season and remember the deep sense of family and what made this team special.
“They literally do not take it as they are the star,” Prosek said. “They work for each other and they play for each other.”