Panthers’ perfect season
Every day, since it lost in the championship game a year ago, the Imbler volleyball team had one goal — to get to the state title game and to win it all.
But here’s the magic. Once the goal was set, the Panthers spent little time focusing on it. Instead, they took it one day at a time, one practice at a time, one game at a time, focusing on honing their skills and thorough preparation.
The hard work paid off. Imbler won its third state volleyball title Saturday night, and was the only team in all six classifications to complete the season undefeated.
It’s a monumental accomplishment.
The Panthers, guided by head coach Jennifer Teeter and Old Oregon League Player of the Year Malia Mills, finished the season 27-0.
Going undefeated is not easy. Each win adds to the pressure. All the other teams want to be the first to pin a loss on the team that is on a roll.
Teeter attributes Imbler’s ability to go undefeated this volleyball season to the great coaches and players in Northeast Oregon, not just at Imbler but at all the schools. Strong competition leads to more dynamic play, night in and night out. Everyone pushes everyone else to do better.
Success involves not only dedicated athletes ready to work their tails off but also parents ready to go the extra mile to get their kids to summer camps.
If Imbler’s season was set to music, it might be set to the accompaniment of Def Leppard’s “Undefeated.” The song pays tribute to teams reaching the pinnacle.
Over the years, Imbler has had plenty of role models. Other teams that went undefeated and will be remembered forever are the Miami Dolphins of 1972, the only NFL team to have completed a perfect season.
Then there were coach John Wooden’s UCLA men’s basketball teams from 1971 to 1974 that won 88 games in a row led by center Bill Walton, who went on to become a Portland Trail Blazer on the 1977 world title team.
The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team topped even that, winning 90 games in a row under the capable guidance of coach Geno Auriemma.
Between 1953 and 1957, the Oklahoma Sooners football team won 47 games in a row.
What does such success take? Each of these teams were goal oriented. They had talent and leadership. They had the three C’s — commitment, confidence and chemistry.
Imbler showed that with hard work and smart work, not only in season but year around, great things can happen.
Congratulations, Imbler Panthers, on a perfect season.