ST. MARYS, Pa. – Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to win a championship.
And in the case of Elk County Catholic girls’ sports in the Fall of 2023 that couldn’t be any truer.
The Lady Crusaders’ female athletic program accomplished something very few in the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have ever accomplished (ECC is only the 10th) and something that no one its size had ever done in the Fall in girls’ athletics.
ECC won not one but two PIAA girls’ title taking home the Class 1A cross country championship Nov. 4 and then following that up with a Class 1A volleyball title 14 days later.
“To win two state titles in a period of a couple of weeks it takes athletes first,” ECC athletic director Aaron Straub, who knows something about what it takes to win a state title having coached the 2006 Crusader boys’ basketball team to the PIAA 1A championship, said. “It takes support from the school. It takes great coaching.”
From Straub’s perspective, the two programs had some similarities starting with players who worked to get better as the season went along.
“I think the No. 1 parallel between them is the improvement throughout the course of the season,” Straub said. “Especially in that crunch time with volleyball. I think you saw the team just got better and better each set of each game starting with the first district playoff game.”
The other factor Straub pointed to was how the teams came together as teams.
“They held each other accountable,” Straub said. “They grew as a team and had the camaraderie and the teamwork and the just not wanting let their teammates down. I told somebody, they talk about good teams having good players but great teams have great teammates Both of those programs have great teammates.”
Straub also credited the athletes for setting their goals high.
“It’s certainly a credit to our athletes,” Straub said. “We just have one of those special groups of kids. We always have great athletes. We always have great kids. This year, in terms of athletically, they are very good, and, I don’t how to describe it, but there is a real commitment to be successful. The will that the girls have. They just don’t set their sights on just having a winning season. They set their sights on a state title.”
Straub said the way the school community has come together with the championship programs is special.
“I think the key word is celebrate,” Straub said. “Our crowd (at the volleyball title game) was phenomenal. The energy in the gym was phenomenal. Events like this bring schools together, bring communities together. It means a lot, it really does.”
ECC CROSS COUNTRY PIAA TEAM MEMBERS
Head Coach: Wee J. Furnan
ECC VOLLEYBALL PIAA TEAM MEMBERS
Head Coach: Tricia Bauer
Asst. Coaches: Jill Kaul, Vicki Struble, Rick Fox, Kelsey Morey
PIAA CROSS COUNTRY RESULTS
1. Elk County Catholic, 63
2. Notre Dame Green Pond, 71
3. Winchester Thurston, 190
4. Seneca, 192
5. Northeast Bradford, 143
PIAA VOLLEYBALL RESULTS FOR ECC
First Round: ECC 3, Homer-Center 1
Quarterfinals: ECC 3, Serra Catholic 0
Semifinals: ECC 3, Maplewood 0
Championship: ECC 3, West Branch 0