You could get pretty good odds in Vegas or even at Pimlico this weekend that you couldn’t say with specificity what you were doing on April 13, 2009, or that you are doing the same thing now.
Don’t be insulted. That’s no knock on you personally, but rather a recognition that most of us don’t have total recall or perform precisely the same task over an extended period.
Heck, that date was my birthday and I don’t even remember what I did.
An exception might be granted to members of the McDonogh girls lacrosse team. From the aforementioned April date nine years ago until last Friday, the Eagles did one thing, the same thing, over and over.
Until the Notre Dame Prep Blazers captured the Interscholastic Athletic Association, a conference championship with a 10-8 victory, the McDonogh team spent the previous 198 games doing the sports equivalent of lather, rinse, repeat. They suited up, played the game and then won.
The 198-game streak topped a 186-game run achieved by the Watertown Mass. field hockey team, according to the National Federation of High Schools.
The Baltimore Sun noted that the Eagles’ streak fell 20 games short of a 218-game run by a Louisiana girls basketball team during the late 1940s and early 50s.
Just last month, the estimable USA Today sports department called the McDonogh team “the most unbeatable team in high school sports history.”
The Notre Dame Prep Blazers might beg to differ, especially with that conference trophy in a case, but the Eagles’ victories from the April, 2009 loss to a New York school to last Friday’s setback deserves to be thought in the way Julia Cooper, the team goalie, described it to the Baltimore Sun: “the most incredible thing in the world.”
Surely, players like Cooper and her predecessors deserve the overwhelming share of credit for the streak.
It takes a special collection of athletes to put aside personal agendas to do what it takes to win championships. It takes an even more impressive group to cast off the weight of a consecutive games streak and just play.
Clearly, the young women at the Owings Mills school have been that group for the last nine years.
But there is also something to be said for the men and women who have led McDonogh. This year’s coach, Nancy Love, preached to the players that they shouldn’t be held hostage by the streak, which included nine straight conference titles and eight years as the top girls lacrosse program in the country.
The foundation of that streak was built under the leadership of Chris Robinson, who left McDonogh earlier this year after 13 seasons to nurture a Little League-style girls lacrosse program.
The first 177 wins of the streak were under Robinson’s tutelage, and the story of this remarkable run cannot be written without his inclusion.
We’ll have to wait until next spring to see if a new streak is started by McDonogh, Notre Dame Prep or some other school.
In the interim, let’s hope the Eagle players don’t mourn that their run is over, but rather celebrate the fact that it even happened in the first place.
And that’s how I see it for this week.