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Schools of Thought: The first of better days

April 13, 2009
By BILL CAIN, The Leader-Herald

Girls' spring sports teams in Johnstown haven't been the most successful in recent years, but this year's Lady Bills have started turning things around.

Friday was a momentous day for girls' athletics in Johnstown. The Lady Bills' softball and girls' lacrosse teams both won.

That may seem unimpressive to some, but considering the history of the programs, it's remarkable.

The softball team, just two games into the season, has matched it's win total of the last three years. A 7-6 non-league win last season broke a 46-game losing streak. Friday, the Lady Bills beat Fort Plain 8-1. They lost 2-1 in 10 innings to Albany to start the season.

It seems like they're dead set on turning things around this year.

It seems like the feeder program is starting to kick in. A freshman pitcher in the circle, Alyssa LaLonde, is proof of that.

Sophomores Merceides Winright, Sheladae Colasanti, Katherine Bant and Alicia Corbett return after playing varsity ball as freshmen last year. Four new sophomores, a second freshman and just two seniors make for a Johnstown club that is full of further growth potential.

I was pretty sure at the beginning of the season the Lady Bills were going to start turning things around this season, but I'd be lying if I said I thought they'd look this much better this soon.

Rest assured, these girls will win a few more. I have no expectations of them finishing near the top of the Foothills Council just yet, but a few wins here and there is more than a good start. When they won last year, their seniors tasted victory for the first time in their careers.

Now, these players will start expecting to win. That's the biggest step. That they are developing the talent to do it is the other crucial step.

The Lady Bills' lacrosse players know those steps. With their 2-1 record to start the season, they've equaled last year's win total. They may have finished better than 2-16 last year if it weren't for a thunderstorm hitting the reset button on a game they led 14-7 but lost 15-11 after starting over.

That was against South Glens Falls at Knox Field. They played well enough to win the first time around, but they played like a different team the second time around.

Friday, South Glens Falls came back to Knox Field and the Lady Bills were ready, again. After letting their defense get a little out of shape in the first half, they showed how disciplined they can be in front of the goal. They also showed some determination on the attack to tie the game with 27 seconds left and win it with three.

So they won a game. Big deal, right?

It's not the win that matters, so much, but the chip balanced on their shoulder as they did it.

They thought they should have beat South High the first time around. They felt cheated, not by the Bulldogs, but the rule that erased their seven-goal lead last season.

They felt they were good enough to win and weren't going to settle for less.

This level of self-esteem was something missing from both Johnstown programs in recent years. If it's genuine, we'll see it more often than not this season and with even more regularity next year.

Then they'll look back and say April 10, 2009 was the start of bigger and better things.



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