TORRINGTON >> When Torrington’s Brittany Young struck out with the bases loaded to lose to Seymour, 2-1, in the NVL Championship game, she was upset, feeling like she let her team down, but her teammates wouldn’t let that happen, because they held the rope.
“You think (Brittany Young) at the end of the game, after we made all those errors, and then she, standing up there, struck out. She was devastated,” Torrington head coach Maryanne Musselman said. “Do you know what my team did? They hugged her and held her and talked to her all about how it wasn’t that, it was the five errors before that. That’s holding the rope for each other, to hold the rope during adversity is really important, probably more important than when you win the game.”
‘Holding the rope’ is a motto the Red Raiders adopted before the NVL Tournament, after Musselman’s daughter and assistant coach Torrie brought to her the motto to Musselman, after her team used it in her football league.
From a flyer that the team has “imagine hanging from the edge of a cliff with 20,000 feet below you and the only thing between you and a fall to death is a rope with your team on the other end. Who would you trust to hold the rope so you could climb to safety, who do you know that would let the rope scar their hands and still not let go? How many people could you count on who would withstand burning pain and watch blood drip from their hands for you?”
“It’s the definition of a team; we will always have each other’s back,” Torrington’s starting pitcher Sydney Matzko said.
“The only way to know if you are a team is to see if they would hold you up,” Torrington centerfielder, Brittany Anderson added.
The Red Raiders have bought into the motto and it already has shown on the field, they even bring a rope to each game, holding it when they get ready for a game.
“You look over and someone is always holding the rope; it reminds us that someone always has your back,” Torrington first baseman, Sara Heath said.
“We don’t look at our batting average, if you’re asked to sacrifice, you sacrifice, if you’re asked to swing over a pitch, you swing over a pitch,” Musselman said. “If you’re asked to not play and bat, or run, or cheer, our bench has become very vocal because the role players are just as important, they get us going.”
Last season the Red Raiders won the NVL Championship and finished the regular season undefeated, before losing to Bunnell in the second round of the Class L state tournament.
“Our whole thing we’ve worked on, our skill is good and we are fundamentally sound, we needed to find a way to have everyone understand to importance of team,” Musselman said.
On Tuesday the Red Raiders defeated Foran, 7-3, to advance to the quarterfinals.
“When you have so many individual good athletes, it’s I, I, I, my base hit, my RBI, my batting average, my on base percentage,” Musselman said. “We needed to turn the focus off I and to us, and they’ve done that, they’ve bought into it.”
Torrington continues its quest for a State Championship Thursday against Berlin at Torrington High School at 4 p.m. and the rope will be there, but it doesn’t matter, the Red Raiders have bought in.
“Our batting all the way down through the order has gone up. Is it because they believe in themselves? Absolutely,” Musselman said. “They believe in each other and they believe in themselves, and that’s critical in any athlete or performer. If you don’t think you can do it, you can’t, if you think you can do it, you can.”