The last conference game in baseball and softball with Faith Lutheran is today. As many of you who follow high school sports know, Faith Lutheran and Clark will no longer be in the same conference next year. They are going to be in Class 4 next year and we will be in Class 3.
I know over the years I have gotten in trouble with Faith Lutheran, mouthing off about them and letting them know how I truly felt about their sports program, but that’s what it is all about when you have a rival that is worth talking about.
I feel Faith Lutheran coaches have all been great sports and I have to admit they have been fun to watch. Every single coach has been courteous and polite and really they were not into smearing a team. They came to town, competed and if they lost they still shook your hand.
Of course most of our coaches can’t wait for them to go, but I actually found some of the coaches that are sad to see them go.
I was fortunate to witness one of the greatest comebacks in Trojans sports history and that was the 2012 Trojans girls soccer team under coach Pam Larmouth and Joe Sladek. It was a special year for those girls as that team repeated as state champions. This team lost to Faith Lutheran in the regular season and then lost to them again at the regional playoffs.
And then they did the unthinkable and came back and beat a great South Tahoe team 8-3 at state and then beat Faith Lutheran in the state championship 3-0. Trojans coach Joe Sladek recalled those games. He had two daughters playing that season.
“We had a week to get focused on South Tahoe,” Sladek said. “The girls took out their frustration on losing to Faith on South Tahoe. That is how they were, for after a loss they would punish the next team.They got on fire against South Tahoe and they took the girls’ abuse.”
He reminded me their only losses that year were to Faith Lutheran.
“We then focused on beating Faith Lutheran by marking the girl that caused us to lose,” he said.
The tactic worked and Sydney Sladek did the rest as she scored 2 or 3 goals.
He said that if he was coaching today at the high school level that he would want to play Faith Lutheran.
“I was disappointed with going into Division I-A that year,” he said. “We wanted to play teams like Bishop Gorman. We wanted to play the top teams and play at the highest level we could. When you played teams like Adelson (the last place team) at the time and beat them 10-0 that didn’t do anything for our team.”
Sladek said his team played at the level of the other team and so needed high-caliber teams to keep sharp.
Another coach who is sad to see Faith Lutheran go is Eli Armendariz of the Trojans softball program.
“I am sad to see them go,” Armendariz said. “The kids and coaches are decent and respectful and there really hasn’t been any animosity between us. They are always competitive and good sports.”
The coach said it’s all about playing the best to get better.
“I enjoy watching my team against them,” he said. “I like to see them improve against them. Last year we couldn’t hit them at all and this year we started hitting them.”
Trojans athletic director Ed Kirkwood also said that Faith was a good competitor when he was coaching.
He was the Trojans track coach in 2013 and he enjoyed the competition also.
“It was tough facing them but, you knew it was going to be good,” he said. “They made you coach. To beat them it came down to you doing a good coaching job.”
He recalled that in 2013 his track team was state runner-up to Faith Lutheran.
“These guys make you work and come ready to play,” he said. “On the flip side, it’s time for them to go. They need better competition in league.”
Vern Hee is the sports editor of the Pahrump Valley Times