This week has been a farewell tour on a grand stage for the Panther seniors. The school has a community pep session slated for 6 p.m. today, and has treated the rest of the week like it’s homecoming, with dress-up days and room decorating at the schools.
It’s a chance for the community to show their appreciation for a senior class that has been unparalleled at Western, a class which enters Saturday with a 71-25 career record, two sectional titles, two regional titles and a semistate championship.
At the same time, the seniors find the week as a great opportunity to reciprocate that appreciation for a school and community that helped shape them into the players, and more importantly, people they are today.
“I know no matter what we do, it’ll never be enough to ever repay the school, our families, friends and the community for supporting us,” Caitlyn O’Neal said. “They’ve helped make us who we are, and it feels good to at least try to give back to the people who were there for us.”
A major highlight for the team in all the hoopla is their school parade, where they will walk through the hallways and receive well wishes from fellow students and faculty from the high, middle and primary schools. It’ll be a symbolic passing of the torch to the younger girls who look up to the current players, an aspect the seniors feel an immense amount of pride and responsibility towards.
“It’s special because I remember when I was that age and remembering how much I wanted to be like them when I got older,” Caitlyn added. “I remember a select few girls who made an effort to make my sister and I feel special. I want to do for them what [past players] did for me when I was little. Their support has helped us so much, because they dress up so cute for our games with crazy hair and outfits. It’s special for us as a team.”