Watching their classmates hoist the Class A girls basketball state championship trophy last March should have been one of the highlights of their high school careers.
Instead, Grand Haven’s Katie Harding and Faith Platz felt only heartbreak.
Both juniors at the time, Harding and Platz had watched the Bucs win a state title the previous year, and dreamed of being a part of a team that hoisted the championship trophy in front of adoring fans at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
They showed up at tryouts their junior seasons fully expecting to make the team — a team loaded with talent coming back from the previous season.
Instead, their dreams were dashed. They fell casualties to the program’s success; too many outstanding players crammed into two classes and not enough spots on the bench.
When they learned their fates — the last two cut from the 12-player roster — they were crushed.
“It was probably my worst feeling ever,” Harding said. “I just remember walking out of the locker room (after talking with coach Katie Kowalczyk-Fulmer). We had to call into the gym who was next, and I called, ‘Faith,’ and I was crying. I walked out and Courtney (Springer) and Mallory (Beswick) hugged me, but it was awful.
“It was so upsetting.”
Platz was the next to learn her fate.
“I was equally as disappointed,” she said. “Playing sports is something that we always took for granted. Being told you can’t really changes your perspective.”
Missing out on the games was bad enough, but they also missed out on so much more — team dinners and sleepovers; long road trips that promote bonding and lasting friendships; the camaraderie that comes with being a part of a close-knit team.
Not all stories have a happy ending, but this one does.
Both girls worked extremely hard and were rewarded by making the varsity team as seniors.
Kowalczyk-Fulmer said it warms her heart to see two girls put in so much hard work, and to watch them reap the rewards.
“Last year, they didn’t make the team, and it was really tough,” the coach said. “They were two kids who had been in the program, but that was a very talented group we had last year. But they both came to me and talked to me about playing during the summer. I encouraged them to come out. I told them it’s a different year. So, they came to everything. Even Faith, with her injury, came to everything, because she wanted to be a part of it.
“In my 22 years, I don’t think I’ve ever cut anyone as a junior, then kept them as a senior, but they stuck with it,” the coach continued. “It was great to be able to start them on Senior Night. They both bring a lot to the team. You don’t have to have the word captain behind your name to be a leader, and they’re both great leaders with great work ethic.”
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