By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
They were loud. They were boisterous.
And one more thing: They believe.
Students and staff at Liberty Christian School have faith that their Lions can beat Marquette Catholic in their semistate matchup today at Lafayette Jeff and advance to the Class 1A state championship game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse next week.
At a pep rally Friday afternoon, students, staff and supporters offered the team a rousing sendoff full of music, funny skits and awards for students and teachers who demonstrated the most team spirit.
Mady Henry, a 16-year-old sophomore, said the atmosphere at school all week has been electric.
“We’re just like a big family, and we’re happy,” she said. “This is the first time we’ve done this so it’s a big thing in our school.”
Her friend, Danielle Johnson, 15, also a sophomore, said it’s been difficult concentrate on classwork since the Lions won the regional championship against Lafayette Central Catholic in Frankfort last weekend.
There were impromptu parties in many classes, she said. “It’s just been really exciting. We’re pumped.”
Principal Amy Conrad said students did pretty well staying on task through Thursday. That pretty much went out the window by Friday morning, though.
The basketball team, cheerleaders and members of the band were pulled out of class early on Friday for the pep rally at Liberty Christian Elementary on Hillcrest Drive.
“We pulled kids out of class for three and four periods,” she said. “But you know what? It’s been a worthwhile disruption.”
Conrad said she personally will lead a caravan of supporters to watch the game. They plan to leave from the elementary school at 10 a.m.
She led a 30-vehicle caravan to Frankfort last weekend, but has no idea what to expect today.
Jamie Dayton, office manager of the secondary school, said 435 of the 1,000 tickets were sold by the time classes ended Friday.
Josh Jenkins, whose two daughters, Julie and Jennifer, attend Liberty, said this season has been a huge boost for school spirit.
“This is our fourth year here,” he said. “We’ve watched them go from a losing season, to winning their first sectional three years ago to this year’s run to the semistate.
“I think we’re going all the way to the state final,” Jenkins added. “We’re supposed to leave for Florida Friday, but I have intentionally not made hotel reservations because I think we’ll be in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. I am absolutely keeping the faith.”
Members of the school’s extended family worked overtime to help keep school spirit high, too.
Vivian Villarreal, the owner of God’s Tee, was busy making hundreds of T-shirts for the school and its fans. Her son, now a student at Ball State University, is a Liberty Christian graduate.
“It’s been an amazing journey with them,”Villarreal said. “Now we have to get out there and win that game.”
Lions coach Jason Chappell, who has been fighting strep throat most of this week, said just before the pep rally that every member of the team has felt the love that’s been showered on them from people in the community and members of the Liberty Christian family.
“It’s been awesome,” Chappell said. “And I’ve encouraged the guys to enjoy every single minute of it because you don’t know when or if this will ever happen again.”
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