Minden celebrates state champ volleyball team with parade, speeches from opera house
MINDEN, Neb. — It’s the week after a state volleyball championship, and the celebration continues in Minden.
That’s what happens when you end a 43-year title drought. More than 100 people celebrated with the Whippets around the downtown square on Wednesday… not too different from the fan support seen all season.
“We have a great community and so it was nothing (shocking), but we’re super grateful that we have such an amazing fan base here,” junior Mattie Kamery said.
“It means so much. Our community is amazing,” junior Makenna Starkey said. “Elderly to the youngest kids, our stands are always filled. This parade just means so much to us.”
The town is full of dedicated fans, but few are like Marsha and DuWayne Krueger. They made 300-mile roundtrip journeys to games in Valentine and Ogallala. Of course, they were in Lincoln for the final.
“To come from behind always makes it more exciting to win, but it’s very nerve-wracking that way too,” Marsha said.
“It was a perfect birthday gift,” DuWayne said.
“DuWayne’s 90th birthday was November 4th,” Marsha said.
The team presented them with an autographed ball.
“Unbelievably nice of them,” Marsha said.
“Didn’t expect it at all. Pretty proud of it,” DuWayne said.
That’s what Wednesday was about for the team and coach Julie Ratka. Saying thank you.
“Whippet Nation. This one is for you,” Ratka said.
They savored the view from the balcony of the city’s 132-year-old opera house. But noting will beat the view from the bottom of the dog pile at the Devaney Center.
“The ball hit the ground - it took me a minute," Starkey said. "Like, we’re state champions? I ran so fast on the court, faster than I’ve probably ever ran in my life. Best point of my life, I’d say.”
“It was just beyond excitement. We had no words, a lot of us were speechless," Kamery said. "There was a lot of emotions and tears. Everyone was just so excited that all of our hard work had finally been put to our end goal and that we finally got to that top point.”
After a grueling three months that saw the Whippets post an undefeated regular season, rack of the most wins school history, and knock off their rival in a five-set championship thriller, the team had just a couple more words for their fans.
“Go Dogs,” Starkey said.