Winning a high school sectional title wasn’t such a common occurrence for a small rural high school in the old days. When it did happen it was a cherished moment for the school and community. Thirty six years ago New Washington was lucky enough to have a taste of post season success as the volleyball team brought home the hardware mostly enjoyed by the larger schools.
The lady mustangs accomplished this feat with a fairly young team with just two seniors. Six juniors and four sophomores also contributed to the successful campaign. Lisa Graebe (formerly Cole) was a sophomore playing up on varsity and recalls her fondness of her two seniors. “I looked up to our senior leaders, Cindy Goodwin and Linda Ballard, with great respect,” said Graebe.
The 1980-1981 volleyball team ended the season with a 17-4 win loss record with wins over Providence, Charlestown, Silver Creek, Scottsburg and Austin.”I can remember that the two power programs back then were Providence and Madison. We beat both of them that season, which was a major accomplishment for our small school,” added Graebe.
Kathy Young Rivers was a sophomore on the team and she concurs with Graebe in regard to the team chemistry. She recalls the team bus rides to and from games and the tight bond shared with her teammates. “I remember on the bus to away games we all sang lots of country songs. A few of us played air guitar” said Rivers.
“We had a great team and a wonderful coach in Kevin Wiggam; that combination brought New Washington High School our first sectional championship trophy in the history of our school,” added Graebe. The team was credited for forming close relationships on and off the court.
Both Graebe and Rivers credit Coach Wiggam for keeping the team on track with their goals and team focus in practices and games. “We worked hard in practice and in games though. Coach Wiggam made sure of that, stated Rivers.
Since the initial sectional championship, New Washington had added five more sectional titles in 1998, 2000, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The last five came under the state class system that began in 2000.
“It was a great experience for us. Volleyball is such a team sport. I continued to play volleyball until I was about 45 years old in co-ed quad outdoor leagues. It’s still my favorite sport to watch,” concluded Rivers.