Believe. Believe. Believe.
That’s the three-word slogan that has guided the Vandebilt Catholic girls’ bowling team throughout this season.
This past week, the team’s belief paid off.
The Lady Terriers are state champions.
Down late in Friday’s state championship match with Holden, the Lady Terriers rallied in the match’s third and final game and scored a 15-12 win – capped by a 2,535-2,519 advantage in total pins.
The victory is the first-ever team state championship for Vandebilt bowling – the icing on the cake for the team labeled as the “Heart Attack Kids” by first-year coach Steve Theriot because of their continuous knack for dramatic, late-match victories.
“I told them a long time ago at a little get together before practice that all we have to do is just believe, believe, believe,” Theriot said. “The girls just needed to believe in themselves and trust in themselves. Believe. Believe. Believe. That’s what they did. And that’s what they’ve done all year. … This is an amazing accomplishment for a remarkable bunch of young ladies.”
“Being the state champions means so much to all of us,” junior bowler Colleen Cheramie added. “We have come so far, and it’s so amazing to say we did it. … It amazes me that it only took us four years to win a state title. It’s the greatest feeling ever.”
To bring home the coveted championship trophy, the Lady Terriers needed to overcome a lot of pressure and adversity.
Theriot said Vandebilt trailed in almost all of its playoff matches. Before advancing to play Holden, the Lady Terriers rallied to beat St. Scholastica 16-11 in the semifinals.
In the finals, Vandebilt faced arguably its largest deficit yet. They trailed after two games by an 11-5 tally.
“Holden only needed three more points to win the state championship,” Vandebilt assistant coach Doug Hamilton said. “We were in very big hole.”
But in the third game, the Lady Terriers answered the call and scored a 7-1 advantage to bring the score to a 12-all tie.
Inside of the third match was also a “game within the game.”
The Lady Terriers were in control of a lot of the matches. But the margin of the victories was of utmost importance because the winner was going to be decided by pin count.
When all of the frames were rolled, Vandebilt knocked over 16 more pins than its opponent.
“There were a lot of times where we needed to get two pins here or three pins there,” Theriot said. “I don’t know if they realized it at the time. But the contributions of all of the ladies is what decided this in our favor.”
Theriot said the team’s recipe for late-match success is simple: his players are just out there having fun.
“All of our girls one-through-six just don’t realize the pressure that is going on around them,” Theriot said. “It’s like they aren’t phased when they have to pick up these pins to win a match or if they need to make a strike or a spare to stay in a match. … Our girls just don’t care about that. They just go do it. Three different times this year, we’ve been behind 11-5 and we rallied to tie it to bring the match to pin count.”
But make no mistake about it – the Lady Terriers have plenty talent, too.
Cheramie anchored Vandebilt’s efforts on a squad that also saw contributions from Adeline Perimen, Lindsay Toups, Dana Rodrigue, Alexandria Duplantis and Elizabeth Burch.
The junior bowler won the individual state championship in 2012.
Cheramie flirted with the title again this year and finished second in the individual competition with a 195 average.
When asked if she preferred the individual title or the team title, she had a quick answer.
“It is the best feeling ever to win a state title as a team,” Cheramie said. “We accomplished so much, and I couldn’t be any more proud of my team. … Winning it individually can’t compare to winning this one as a team.”
Those words are exactly why Cheramie is the team’s captain, according to Theriot.
“I would expect her to say that,” the coach said. “From day one, she’s been all about the team. As the competition was going on, she said she didn’t have any idea about the individual contest or where she stood or anything like that.
“Her only focus was to make sure that the team got it done. The only thing that she was thinking about was making sure that Vandebilt was able to win the state championship. That is everything that you could ever ask for in a captain.”
So with the title on lock, Theriot said the future remains bright at Vandebilt. This year’s girls’ team didn’t have a single senior – the entire team will be back for one more go-round.
In a school filled with athletic powers, it looks like another is forming at Vandebilt.
The success comes as no surprise to Theriot.
He’s predicted it all along – dating back to his very first days on the job.
“I told them when I was being interviewed that they should clear room in the trophy case for the state championship trophy,” Theriot said with a laugh. “I told them, ‘Clear room, because we’ll be bringing it home this year.’ They probably just looked at me and said to themselves, ‘Yeah right, Steve.’ But lo and behold, what did we do? We did it. We did it.”
Cheramie agreed with the coach and said she’s sad to be in the offseason and “can’t wait” for next year.
“I love those girls like my sisters,” Cheramie added. “I would do anything for them. Everything I do for them is worth it, without a doubt.”
The Vandebilt Catholic girls’ bowling team poses with their state championship trophy following Friday afternoon’s 15-12 win against Holden. The Lady Terriers earned the title in comeback fashion.