Chemistry

Chemistry is one of those words that have two completely different meanings.  In science, it roughly means a branch of science that deals with the identification of the substances of which matter is composed.

In that same dictionary, chemistry is defined as the complex emotional or psychological interaction between two people.  That definition needs to expand beyond just two people.  They had it right when they said chemistry is complex.

Maryville’s boys’ soccer team and the volleyball team advanced a long way in post-season this Fall.  You don’t have a successful season if that complex emotional or psychological interaction isn’t roaming on your team.

This year’s football team plays their district semifinal game Friday against St Pius X.  After a season where the team suffered two regular season losses, there is very high hopes they can still advance far into the playoffs, maybe all the way to Columbia.

A few years ago, Oak Grove came into the playoff with two losses just like Maryville.  We played them in the quarterfinals.  Their ground game dominated the Spoofhounds that night.   The Panthers went on to win the state championship in a blowout.

I remember talking to several former Northwest graduates that taught at Oak Grove.  Before the game, they told me  after their last regular season loss, their running back got healthy and the team really came together.  It sounds like that complex thing called chemistry.

It also sounds eerily familiar to what is going on in Maryville.  It looks like Jacob Reuter is getting healthy enough to play.  Also with the amazing win over Lafayette, it certainly looks like chemistry is brewing on this team.

Coaching at Doane College in the 1990’s, I recruited three local women.  They all had athletic talent but they all had their flaws.  Erin Demuth was the oldest.  I was warned not to recruit her by her high school coach.

That coach told me she was tough to coach.  He also said her parents were a real problem.  If she came to Doane College, I should watch my back.

After two years of not playing much, the tall, athletic Erin was about ready to quit.  She or her parents had never been a problem.  It was just that I had some really talented players ahead of her.  Thanks to a former coach that worked at Doane, Erin decided to stick it out.

Gina Milton went to a small school that was near Crete, Nebraska where Doane College was located.  Gina was a forward that wasn’t a great shooter.  She was a right hander that basically could only go left.  She just had something going for her I liked.  She overlooked some negative recruiting and picked Doane College.  She didn’t play much her first couple years at Doane College either.

Tracee Uldrich played at an even a smaller school just a little farther away from Doane.  Milligan High School had Tracee and her sister but very little other talent.  Tracee wasn’t very fast, left handed, a decent shooter, but not great on the boards.  Tracee didn’t play much until the third year.

Tracee was different that the other two.  She had two ACL surgeries.  Her dad even encouraged her to quit, but that just wasn’t in her DNA.

I had three local players with limited talents that had to play big roles on the team.  We had high goals but I wasn’t sure if we had enough talent to go very far.  It probably started a long time before Erin’s senior year, which was Tracee’s redshirt sophomore year and Gina’s junior year.

I’m not sure when the chemistry started to mix.  That complex psychological or emotional interaction really started to work.  The team advanced to the second round of the national tournament.  Not as far as we wanted, but farther than our talent should have took us.

Of course, there were other players included in that complex mixture.  However, it was those three that sent me a group text tonight.  It had the sign for the Barrel Bar in the text.  The Barrel Bar is in Hastings, Nebraska.  That team with all that chemistry had eaten several pre-game meals at the Barrel Bar.  It had great charburgers.

Erin sent the picture.  She also added that right at that moment on the radio the song, “That’s My Story and I’m Sticking to It,” came on.  That song was popular when these three played.  It couldn’t have been a better theme for them.

Gina has a daughter about to graduate from college.  She also has a son in day care.  He got his first time out for calling a girl a butthead.  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Erin has a 6-6 son that is a junior in the same high school where her coach gave me that stern warning.  It sounds like he’s a great basketball player, but I have some advice for whoever recruits him; watch out for his parents.

Tracee got into coaching.  After only one year at a local high school, she became my assistant at Doane College.  A year later, she was the head coach at Doane.  In the last 19 years, not only has she led the Doane women’s basketball team, but she has raised three kids.

If you think I had it tough coaching these three local players, you should try and coach with three young children of your own.

Something has never changed between these three.  That complex mixture called chemistry still exists.  I often get texts with pictures of these three at concerts or old hangouts.

I’m not sure how much chemistry exists with the Maryville football team.  If that complex mixture is half as strong as the chemistry between Erin, Gina and Tracee, it could mean a long run deep into November.  That sounds good to me.

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