By Justin Sokeland
BEDFORD – The record speaks for itself, although Bedford North Lawrence junior Myla Bergman, one of the gritty who suffered through the 2018 campaign, stamped it accurately and succinctly – “Losing sucks.”
The Stars did more than their share during a year that spiraled out of control, dropping 18 of their final 19 matches for a grim 4-25 finish. That’s rock bottom, with only one direction to go.
And BNL is headed that way, with key veterans returning, with some young additions ready to shine on a roster with no seniors, and with the motivation to prove that program nightmare is over.
Competitive people burn when success is elusive. The Stars refuse to stagger through a repeat season.
“I’m not one to lose,” junior Brynlea Bennett said, almost snarling when discussing the horrible memories. “I hate losing. So I’m truly ready to win. I’m hungry for wins.”
“It does sting,” BNL coach Jordan Robbins said. “It has not settled well with them. Last year was not how we wanted to finish. The motivation has to be improvement. We have kids that want to work hard, so the main goal is to improve and win.”
The climb starts with talent. BNL will build around junior hitter Haley Deckard, an All-Hoosier Hills Conference selection who led the Stars in kills with 122 while adding 92 blocks and 106 digs. The attack will also feature Bennett as an outside hitter and sophomore Carlee Kern in a versatile lineup.
With the expected contributions from Merritt Callahan and freshman Annie Waggoner, the Stars have pieces in place.
“We’re very young, but the good thing about it is the young kids we have are good leaders,” Robbins said. “We’re young on paper, but when it comes to the skills we need, we have experience.
“All of them have strengths. Haley is very versatile, and her goal is to make the team better. That’s something you want in every kid. Merritt is in that same boat. All the kids I have are willing to do whatever it takes to make the team grow.”
BNL will have to grow on the fly. The tough schedule, with the HHC producing some of the top-tier teams in the state on a yearly basis, will have few smooth points. The Stars could show amazing improvement and still struggle in terms of wins and losses.
The intangible area, immeasurable but vital, will be leadership. Without upperclassmen to assume that role, the Stars will elect team spokespersons (captains) who will be asked to become the vocal centerpieces.
“It’s the dynamic of the girls,” Deckard said. “We’ve all grown up together, playing different sports, and we all love each their and want each other to succeed. We’re all very competitive.”
The Stars also used last season as an unfortunate education tool. They had no other choice.
“I learned what it takes,” Bennett said. “We were really young last year, and again this year, but that put us at an disadvantage. And it’s our attitudes toward the game. I think we’re going to be a better tam together. We have better chemistry.”
“It makes me want to work harder, because I don’t want to lose as much as we did last year,” Bergman said. “I want to give it everything I have. You have to want it to win.”
BNL will start its redemption season on Aug. 20 at Mitchell.