Marianna, FL---The Chipola Lady Indians are putting together a season to remember, winning their first conference championship in 24 years, coming off a season where they went undefeated against their Panhandle foes in what many call the best conference in the nation.
That's nice and dandy for most teams, but these girls are after something more. They want to add a few more titles to their trophy case and this week, they'll have that opportunity when they head to Ocala for the 2014 FCSAA Championship Tournament.
The Lady Indians have had the opportunity to coast throughout the end of the regular season; they clinched their postseason birth weeks ago with ease.
Yet the women kept hungry and motivated, as coach Greg Franklin says, that took serious team management.
"What I really just worried about was fatigue," says Franklin. "We challenge them everyday so hard in practice, and they respond like you were talking about, they respond. Taking days off, fighting fatigue, fightining mental fatigue, as well as emotional is probably the biggest thing that we had to address. You're trying to nurture someone's ego, as well as trying to keep them humble. That's a fine line right there."
Coach has balanced that line well obviously, with his Lady Indians ranked 4th in the nation headed into the state tournament.
While it may be surprising based on the success the team's enjoyed this year, for many of the girls, the Panhandle Conference Championship was their first title they earned in their playing careers.
Franklin says that in order to get his team to play like champions, he and his staff had to make them believe that they were champions.
"You really try to manufacture that mentality and you have to do that in practice. And you have to do that in situations in the game, like 'hey this is the possession that's gonna get you on top. The next three minutes is what's gonna win you this ballgame.' Then when you get to that championship level, you get to that championship game, then you can draw reference to that. I think you have to engrain that through certain situations and draw reference to it if someone hasn't won a championship."