Hewitt-Trussville spring athletics success enlightening
By Gary Lloyd
The community has gotten a bite of the Hewitt-Trussville athletics cookie.
And it tastes good.
The boys’ and girls’ soccer teams both made the Class 6A state quarterfinals for the first time in school history. The boys’ and girls’ track and field teams were both top 15 programs in the state. The girls’ tennis team finished in the top 15 at the state tournament. The girls’ golf team placed sixth in the state, the softball team stockpiled 39 win and finished one win shy of a final eight appearance, and the baseball team reached the state championship series for the first time in school history.
Spring forward, indeed.
Trussville City Schools Athletics Director Karen Johns, the system’s athletics director since July 2011, said she relates success to a cookie. She said the community, athletes and coaches have now gotten a bite of how good the cookie can taste.
“And now they want the whole cookie,” Johns said.
The goal of Hewitt-Trussville athletics, in a way, is to be cookie-cutter, to perform consistently at a high level in every sport from recreational leagues to middle school to the varsity. This spring at the varsity level, success built with each sport. It really began with wrestling, a winter sport. Hewitt-Trussville finished third in the Class 6A tournament, with senior Marcus Elkins (182-pound weight class) and eighth-grader Heath Williamson (106-pound weight class) winning individual state championships.
The boys’ soccer team was ranked No. 10 in Class 6A, finishing with a 15-7-3 record, losing in the quarterfinals to No. 2 Vestavia Hills. The girls’ soccer team was also No. 10, finishing with a 17-4-1 record after losing to No. 4 Mountain Brook. The girls’ golf team played consistently throughout the spring en route to a sixth-place state finish. Same with the girls’ tennis team, which compiled a 12-2 record and a 15th place state finish. The boys were 11-4.
The softball team won all its games at Goldie Paine Field, earned a No. 6 ranking and posted a 39-12 record. The baseball team punctuated the spring semester, winning eight of 12 playoff games, reaching the state semifinals for the first time since the players’ parents were in school, advancing to the state finals for the first time ever.
“They have put our school on the map,” said first-year baseball coach Jeff Mauldin. “If you don’t respect Hewitt-Trussville baseball right now, you shouldn’t be even following the game.”
The community followed the team. About 800 white T-shirts acknowledging the baseball team’s semifinals appearance were sold. Another 800, in black, were sold the week leading up to the state finals series against Pelham.
“It was pretty feverish,” Johns said.
Johns talks to Hewitt-Trussville athletes about former Alabama football coach Bear Bryant, about how he wasn’t sure how to define a champion, but he knew what one looked like.
“That’s the thing I’m trying to get through to our kids, is that if you act and you work and you conduct yourself in that fashion, positive things are going to happen for you in your lifetime,” Johns said. “That’s what we want.”
Stu Stuedeman, entering his second season as the varsity girls’ basketball coach, attends as many Hewitt-Trussville athletic events as possible. He said that his players seeing other teams’ success motivates them.
“It’s a big family, and everyone is pulling for each other,” he said. “Everyone is motivated by everybody else’s success.”
Johns believes this spring proves that expectation levels can be higher than in the past, and that they can be met. Coaches can work harder, players can commit more time and effort, the community can believe more.
“This spring was a real good positive result of that,” she said.
Johns said success breeds success, that spring success can permeate throughout the program and motivate football, volleyball, cross country and basketball players. Johns said coaches preach it in the hallways, at games and at practices.
“Everybody wants to be a part of that,” Johns said.
Johns described the spring success as enlightening for athletes and the community, knowing that Hewitt-Trussville can compete with the Hoovers and Mountain Brooks of the world.
“They see that it is possible, and it drives them,” said Stuedeman, whose team finished 10-21 last season but won 10 of its last 16 games.
Johns said coaches and players across all sports are buying in, an example being Mauldin working with the softball and soccer teams in a weight training class.
“There’s an impact that’s being made by other folks, not just with their own programs,” she said. “That becomes very contagious.”
Rising senior basketball player Jarvis Calhoun, a UAB commitment who averaged 25 points per game for Hewitt-Trussville last season, was inspired by the success of the baseball team this spring. He plans to draw on that this fall.
“I believe they did something that nobody would have ever believed could be done,” Calhoun said. “Even though they didn’t get the state title, they are still champs. It motivates me to know that hard work and sticking together as a team can take you far. Anything is possible and this year I’m ready to reach the possible.”
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.