OCOEE — The Legacy Charter girls volleyball team didn’t win the Class 2A District 4 Championship Oct. 23, but if you walked into the Eagles’ gym in the moments following the game’s conclusion, it sure might have seemed as though they did — there were smiles and hugs to go around.
In fact, if you had watched the district championship match between Legacy and Foundation Academy, a clean sweep (25-13, 25-8, 25-6) for the Lions, you might have had to repeatedly look up at the scoreboard to remind yourself that Foundation was winning and had been in control from start to finish.
No, the Eagles didn’t really come close against the Lions — the state runner-ups in Class 2A in both 2012 and 2013 — but that was OK. Two nights earlier, Legacy punched a ticket to this week’s state tournament by edging Deltona Trinity in a five-set thriller, 3-2 (18-25, 25-19, 25-19, 19-25, 15-12).
The achievement came in the program’s first year of district play in the FHSAA, making this a definite case where they are just happy to be there.
“Our goal at the beginning was to go on and become runner-up,” first-year coach Larry Kimpel said. “I think they got a taste (in the win over Trinity) of what it is to win in the district.
“This all is bonus now — we’ve got our goal.”
Under Kimpel’s direction, this year’s Eagles have worked hard to achieve a .500 record (13-13 before Tuesday’s regional quarterfinal match) and win more games than they had in either of the program’s first two years of existence.
The girls were rewarded for their hard work by a memorable atmosphere for the game against the Lions — the gym was packed with fans from both sides and members of the Legacy football team cheered behind one of the benches, with a few even donning body paint and ditching their shirts.
The enthusiastic crowd, despite the game’s lopsided score, was impressive, and Foundation coach Danny Eleutiza went over to Eagles Athletic Director Jarrett Wiggers to make sure and tell him so — and to ask if he could borrow Legacy’s “seventh man”-cheering section for his own playoff home games.
“It brought some tears, because it’s been a long time since I’ve seen excitement with a group of girls like that,” Kimpel said. “That ‘seventh man’ was just fantastic. The biggest thing is, it’s about the kids. It’s been real fun.”
So, no, the Legacy girls volleyball team didn’t win its district championship and likely won’t advance very far in the regional tournament — especially with a likely rematch with the Lions looming in the regional semifinals should the Eagles have scored an upset on Tuesday.
Both of those things are OK.
Legacy had a goal — make the state playoffs — and it accomplished that. A young program of enthusiastic and eager athletes has set a foundation for the small charter school’s programs in the years to come, and that’s pretty exciting in and of itself.
Everything else from here is just icing on the cake.