It was the last insult of the season of disrespect.
The Pasadena Marshall High girls volleyball team lost every game, lost by every imagination, once lost by 28 runs, so much so that rival teams struggled purposefully to save them from further embarrassment.
Now they have lost their coaches in the last game, because he has temporarily lost his mind.
In the second shot of a 12-0 defeat at El Monte Mountain View, Mike Lundi finally melted, shouted at the referees, was sent off and refused to leave the field.
Their finale was confiscated. One last shot. Another shame. They finished with a record of 0-18. They won 294-32. Disappointed, the marshals packed up and prepared to board the bus.
But first there was something they had to do. Because they did not lose everything. They did not lose their pride. They did not lose their honor. For some reason, they still did not lose faith in the healing power of the sport.
So, even after an unfinished game, even after a season that lasted indefinitely, with the departure of his coach and the consolidation of his unbeaten record, the Marshall Eagles decided to line up a single file on their pitch.
They wouldn’t go home until they shook hands with the girls from Mountain View.
Mountain View coach Larry De La Rosa said, “Very high grade.” “I was very impressed.”
Marshall was a team that happily accepted its challenges, constantly struggling with its shortcomings throughout the season, and this last defeat was in fact the last victory.
He did not win, but no one refused. He did not win, but still everyone sang, applauded, hugged and believed.
No victory, no hope, no chance, but not once did they cross that line.
“We can lose,” said Sarah Bloom, a short-term midfielder. “But we lose like champions.”
They loved to sing. The Marshall High Eagles didn’t have many great moments, so they would even celebrate their routine.
When they appeared, they would sing.
“Good eye, good eye, way to watch how that ball goes!”
They would sing when someone contacted them.
“Faul ball, faul ball, try again, try again!”
When do they really score a run?
The noise from their benches would cut off your ears, the joy would be real, shared and read.
“I feel good, I feel great, I just hit the house plate!”
“They’re kind of like the Bad News Bears,” said Henry Lewis, the father of freshman Jorja Lewis. “But it gave my daughter a connection.”
Her daughter had never played a competitive sport before joining the volleyball team this year, which is probably why she was so confused in her last home game when she reached third base.
“I’ve never been here before!” he shouted
“I’m glad you can visit me!” third base coach Lundy said.
Scenes like this answered a question that arose several times during the interview of this column.
Why do you write about a winless volleyball team?
Because the Eagles, who have won just one unbeaten game in three years, are reminded that the crazy competitive world of high school sports can still be linked to something other than the final score.
Although their coach eventually lost his composure, they never lost it.
“It’s about being part of a team,” Bloom said.
Although they heard noise from the stands of the facing high schools, they never shouted.
“It’s about improving every day,” said little holder Maddie Stukel.
Although their parents were always worried about their mood, they always shrugged their shoulders and returned to work for themselves and each other.
“It’s amazing, everyone still looks every day after all these losses,” said head cube Rosie Agdaian. “It’s not about winning. It’s about creating gardens, making friends, growing up together. ”
At the start of the season, 13 of the 23 girls had never played volleyball. Some did not have gloves. Others had no traffic jams. Many did not know the rules. For a while, everyone shared the same bat.
Lundi, a 54-year-old substitute teacher, said: “He didn’t know how to throw or catch a handful, and some didn’t know that the third shot failed, but don’t say they didn’t try.” He trained them with only one victory in the last three seasons. “Each of these girls tried to do their best every day.”
They don’t have a scoreboard on their home ground, which is probably a good thing. There are no shelters, bathrooms and only a small tribune collection. There are also no outside fences, so drivers on the opposite line will continue to roll over to the adjacent baseball field, and the Marshall Girls will chase them for days.
Participation in their home games was often single-digit. 10 games at the mercy of each game ended early. They lost 28-0, 20-3 and 19-1.
At first glance, the whole atmosphere looks dusty and gloomy.
Take a closer look.
“We’re killed in every game, but these girls are strong and they don’t care,” Lundy said. “They keep going out because it’s more important to them than gaining unity.”
Take a closer look at their last home game and look at the support given to Agdaian, who has learned to be pitcher because the team needs a pitcher and now has shoulder pain from carrying so much.
“We love you Rosie!” they chanted as he struggled to keep the powerful South El Monte crime at bay. “You got it! You got it! ”
Listen to the applause for freshman Alexandra Ortega Alvarez as the team’s only left-handed player continues to hit rough balls.
“We love our left!” they shouted.
Watch the team celebrate their senior day after the game, which went beyond 20-3 defeats, to honor the five-year-old with flowers and buckets with Sour Patch Kids and Kit Kats.
But first, the South El Monte seniors were surprised by more flowers, and the losers politely made sure the winners didn’t feel out of place.
“Marshall loves the game, they come out here and work hard, it’s great to see that,” said South El Monte head coach Dean Bunting, who made several deliberate moves to keep his team’s score from being too crooked. “They’re improving and I know they’ll have a chance to succeed.”
It’s ridiculous to succeed in high school sports. Accordingly, in Marshall, it was found on a table that did not exist.
This can be seen in the tears as the Eagles embrace their five-year-olds as they reminisce about their team trips to Chipotle and Handel’s ice cream shop.
“It takes a lot of spirit to come back when there’s not much hope,” Stukel said. “We laugh together, we sweat together, we play a lot together.”
This is felt in the embrace of a team that has lost many times on this field, but did not want to leave it at the end of this last home game, lying in one place as if celebrating the championship.
“We are patient, we appear every day as if we have never lost,” said assistant coach Devette Johnson. “We are not afraid. That’s amazing. “
This can be heard in the words of Lola Gomez, a freshman who has never played sports before this year, but promised that the defeat will make her stronger.
“Sometimes it’s hard, and I think, ‘Oh, I could have gotten it easily,’ or ‘Oh, I could have done better in this show.’ “But I know I’m going to push myself and do it when I’m in high school. anything. ”
But a few days later, when they stopped at the handshake line at Mountain View, the Marshall Eagles did something.
They redefined the victory.
“Is sport about winning? This is far from the truth as far as I can imagine, “Stukel said. “Sport is about being proud of your team, never giving up on your team, no matter how much you want to go out.”
Lundy has already surveyed the interest of undefeated, tired and undefeated players to play next season. You will never guess who will return. Or maybe you will.