Sophomore guard Talajha Parker celebrates with other students during Thursday's pep rally in the gym at Notre Dame Academy. The all-girls Catholic high school plays at 6 p.m. Friday in Columbus.
The chants grew so loud, the words were baffling to the unlearned.
Hundreds of Notre Dame Academy students packed their gym Thursday for a brief explosion of anticipation. All stood. Most shouted. Pep rallies at all-girls' schools have a distinctive flavor -- the unison cheers, the higher pitch -- that seems to generate electricity. This rally had the extra energy of precedent, because the team the girls root on is about to set history.
One phrase repeatedly cut through the din: "Our time."
The Eagles girls basketball team will play Kettering Fairmont in a state semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday in Value City Arena in Columbus.
While it's the fifth-straight year a Toledo team reached the state semifinals, this will be Notre Dame's first appearance in a state game. That's why the girls say this year is their time.
Notre Dame beat Wadsworth in a come-from-behind regional championship victory to earn the matchup.
The student body turned out Thursday to send off the team, and calling their effort enthusiastic is certainly an understatement. Students cheered, offered flowers and gifts, played games, sang, and danced. At the end of the rally, teachers filed out as students flooded the floor, the lights went out, and LMFAO's song "Party Rock Anthem" blasted through the speakers.
After the big show, a smaller group watched highlights of the team's last few seasons, Notre Dame's "hype video," one staff member said.
About 200 Eagles fans, many of them students, will attend the game. Coach Travis Galloway said the school sold its allotment of tickets.
Eagles head coach Travis Galloway addresses the pep rally at Notre Dame. The team plays Kettering Fairmont in a semifinal pairing.
Despite being a first foray at the state level, there's a strong confidence among the fan base, as the prominent "Our Time" T-shirts exemplify. The fans, at least, think this game is theirs to take.
"I definitely think they are going to win," freshman Emily Holtyn said. "No doubt about it."
Of course, it's hard to blame the girls for getting wrapped up in the excitement. Even the players suffered from overexuberance after their big win, Mr. Galloway said, almost like a caffeine high.
They had a great first practice, but then the energy flamed out, he said. The players had to refocus, and now they've leveled out.
Fans don't have to worry about energy levels, though, so they can drink all the coffee they want, and that's just how the coach wants it. The girls fed off their fans when they beat Wadsworth.
"We hope to do the same thing [Friday night]," he said.
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