2003 Keller’s Lady Indians State Champs honored

Posted Monday, May. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The players for the Lady Indians 2003 State Championship softball team became the first female students inducted into the Keller ISD Athletics Hall of Fame on Sunday at the annual awards banquet.

The team represents the thirteenth inductee into the Hall of Fame.

A late season loss helped the team bond and come together for a stellar playoff run, said Christina Gwyn, the senior pitching ace for the 2003 squad. Between the end of the regular season and before the playoffs began, the Lady Indians traveled to Waco Midway and lost, but it was the bus ride back home that Gwyn remembers.

“It was the first time as a team that we learned about each other personally and not just as a team,” Gwyn said. “What set that season apart was we completely meshed as one, and it made the journey more fun.”

Moe Fritz, head coach of the Lady Indians from 2002 to 2008, said she, too, believed the aftermath of the loss helped the team come together. “It was the best thing that could have happened to us and really catapulted us into the playoffs,” Fritz said. “It brought to the forefront some things and helped us to really get to know each other better, to open up and support each other.”

Aly Presswood, a freshman outfielder on the 2003 team and part of the 2005 state championship squad, said she has fond memories of the playoff run. “What stands out the most was being at state on the big stage,” Presswood said.

Presswood grew up in Keller hearing about the success of the Lady Indians’ first softball coach, Phyllis Scott, who started the program in 1994 and took the team to the state finals in 1997. Scott became the first woman inducted into the Keller ISD Athletics Hall of Fame in 2007.

The 2002-03 school year was Fritz’s first season as the Lady Indians coach and her first time as a high school coach. She came to Keller after coaching at the University of Southern Colorado. Fritz brought a positive philosophy and encouraged the girls to have goals.

“She said softball should be a release from life,” Presswood said. “It doesn’t mean that what’s going on in life isn’t important, but softball was a time when we could just focus on what we can do as a team.”

Fritz downplays her role, saying she was in the right place at the right time. “There was a lot of talent, and they worked their butts off,” Fritz said. “They were like sponges. Anything I asked them to do, they would do. I knew we were going to be successful.”

Gwyn said she was excited to be doing something new when Fritz came to Keller. What she learned that year helped her decide to get into coaching while attending the University of Texas on a softball scholarship. Now Gwyn is an assistant coach for Fritz at McKinney Boyd High School.

Presswood remembers that Fritz used to have them listen to recordings of motivational speaker Tony Robbins before games. Near the end of his recordings, they would all shout with him, “I love my life!” It became a running joke with the team.

Gwyn said she slept through a lot of those sessions because the lights were off.

Special inspiration

Presswood and Fritz both mentioned the impact of bat girl Christen Gilbert. Gilbert, a special education student with Down Syndrome who died in 2005, always hugged players when they returned to the dugout.

“She was inspiring with her attitude towards life, definitely someone who kept us going,” Presswood said.

Fritz said Gilbert was always the first one to hug a player who had just struck out. “It was a reminder that this is just a game, and it’s about life, how we respond to situations, lean on each other,” Fritz said. “It helped keep everything in perspective.”

By her example, Gilbert—along with bat girl Maria Levasseur, another special needs student—encouraged players to treat one another with kindness.

Presswood said the 2005 State Championship was a great experience, too, but was not as big of a high because that team was projected to win it all from the start of the season. The 2003 title was the first state championship in Keller district history.

Continuing a legacy

Presswood said she feels honored to be a part of what has become a Lady Indians legacy of success in softball. Just as Scott’s players from 1997 spoke to her team in 2003, Presswood talked to this year’s team and has been following the current playoff run.

The Lady Indians Varsity Softball team played Marcus in the Region I semifinal round, winning on Thursday and losing close games on Friday and Saturday in Colleyville.

Keller Athletic Director Bob DeJonge said the Lady Indians have only missed the playoffs once in the 19 year history of the program.

Fritz said the pride in being a Keller Lady Indian started before she arrived and continued after she left. “The legacy is for all of us to share,” she said.

Getting the players to believe in themselves continues to be the key to success in softball. Fritz and Gwyn were busy this past weekend taking Boyd’s Lady Broncos to the Region II 5A semifinal round against the Woodlands.

“As far as a legacy goes, you can coach, but when it all comes down to it, you have 15- to 18-year-old girls who need to trust in themselves and do it,” Fritz said.

Gwyn agreed. “The biggest challenge then I think is the same challenge everywhere. You need to get 15 girls all on the same page.”

Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231 Twitter: @SandraEngelland

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