Brian Paglia, email@example.com
The words hung in the air almost one year to the day.
They were the final words Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy gave to the media last season after losing to George Walton Academy at home in the Class A quarterfinals.
Chargers second baseman D.J. Curl stood outside the team’s locker room with Jacob Heyward — which, 367 days later, now seems fitting — and said: “I feel like everybody’s going to mature from this experience, and we’ll be able to bring our mistakes and use them to come out next year.
“I’m not happy until we get a state championship.”
Happy now, Curl?
You’ve got it after defeating Mount Paran, 5-1 and 4-1, in the Class A private school finals at home on Saturday. You went 30-3, won a second straight Region 5-A championship and went virtually wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in Class A.
Curl isn’t the first disappointed athlete to make such a bold proclamation after postseason disappointment. To be fair, he had a certain luxury anyways. ELCA wasn’t exactly a long-shot.
Already, the Chargers knew they would return every single starter except ace pitcher Kevin Martin. That’s probably what coaches around the state considered when they voted ELCA as No. 1 to start the season. Another year of development from the likes of Jacob Heyward, Dazmon Cameron, Andrew Gomez, Matthew Hammers and others might close the gap between quarterfinals and championship.
But that shouldn’t diminish Curl’s declaration. Goals are easy to throw around. They’re harder to accomplish.
They are necessary nonetheless. If you’ve done any research on personal development, you know there is real power in writing down goals. Suddenly, with your dreams in ink you get clarity, motivation and accountability.
Some people study this stuff for a living and they’ve found writing down goals and reviewing them unlocks some intangible part of the subconscious that leads to progress and, ultimately, achievement.
Sitting in ELCA’s dugout following the state title-clinching Game 2 victory over Mount Paran, Curl looked back at how this season started.
He said it started with the Chargers making goals.
Win a Region 5-A championship.
Win a state championship.
What that process unlocked in this ELCA team only it can really know. We can only see how this championship run unfolded and guess.
How Dalton Etheridge transformed into a dominant No. 1 pitcher and became the perfect replacement for Martin, last season’s Henry Daily Herald pitcher of the year.
How pitcher Joshua Smith recovered from Tommy John surgery just in time to be his most effective in the state tournament where he made two clutch Game 2 starts.
How slugger Jacob Heyward woke up from a regular season funk to explode for seven home runs in the postseason.
How ELCA coach Doug Campbell called up Cole Ganopulos from junior varsity mid-way through the regular season giving him enough seasoning to be prepared for Saturday’s title-clinching Game 2 start.
How, after coming up short in clutch situations against George Walton a year ago, the Chargers managed to score all four runs in Game 2 with two outs.
These are the kinds of things that happen when talent commits to a vision and doesn’t lose focus.
These are things we should’ve seen coming.
Brian Paglia covers sports for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter? Follow him @BrianPaglia.