By Rick Menning
Foote Substitute Faculty and Sports Journalist
With excitement at a fever pitch inside the H. Everton Hosley Jr. Gymnasium, The Foote School 6th, 7th and 8th graders — donning their maroon and grey pinnies —stood ready for battle at opposite ends of the Ted Willis Court.
A reward for the Middle School students’ hard work through two days of ERB testing, the dodgeball tournament was accentuated by chants of encouragement and support as the Maroon and Grey squads — divided X, Y, and Z divisions — faced off.
After the opening games the prior afternoon, the atmosphere remained electric on the second day of competition as Maroon Y and Grey Z awaited the whistle to start the semi-final game. 'Go Maroon' and 'Go Grey' Signs were abundant, and creative cheers never stopped for nearly an hour.
Displaying focus and determination for more than 12 minutes of the back-and-forth showdown, Maroon Y prevailed to earn a berth in the final against Grey X. The maroon team carried its momentum into the title clash with a will to succeed.
Throughout the first five minutes, Maroon Y and Grey X stayed pretty much even with no clear advantage. However, over the next three minutes, Maroon Y produced some precision hits and catches to hold a 9-5 edge in remaining players.
Just past the 10-minute mark, and with five Maroon Y players still on the court compared to one for Grey X, the title was decided when the last Grey X player was eliminated.
The celebration was on, but it actually started about 15 minutes earlier.
"When we won (the semi-final) the cheers for us just got so much louder and that helped a lot heading into the final game," said eighth-grader Jackson Shaw, who was among those on the court when the decisive hit was secured.
Shayann Bershtein, who was part of a group hug by all her teammates after the win, referred to the champions' showing as a "fireball" effort.
"I think we were all very confident and nervous at the same time, which is every athlete's mindset when it comes to a game," said Bershtein, also an eighth-grader. "We were really determined (to rep) our team color. A big thank you to my team members; we had good spirit and we won!"
Justin Aseme, another eighth-grade student, noted that momentum indeed played a huge role in Maroon Y's ability to win back-to-back games on Title Thursday.
"We had a really good performance in the semi-final. You could feel the excitement and support among our cheering section, and we carried that energy into the championship game," Aseme said. "I am really proud of our effort as a group. We couldn't have won if it weren't for all of us contributing."