It was another banner year at Providence.
For the third year in a row, a Pioneer team has advanced to the state finals. In 2013-14, Providence had two state finalists, a regional championship, two individual state finalists, and of course, a state champion.
The Pioneers’ championship pedigree and their performances across the board has made Providence the 2013-14 Athletic Program of the Year.
“This is by design,” Providence athletic director Mickey Golembeski said. “What our people have put in at the lower levels in terms of time and effort has made this a design to have the kind of year we had this year.”
“As a person who’s been with Providence my whole life, it’s been nice to see the way the programs have all developed the way they have,” said Pioneer softball coach Sean Payne, who also serves as the assistant athletic director at Providence.
The Providence volleyball team roared through the state tournament without dropping a set and beat Hammond Noll 25-18, 25-15, 25-20 to join the 2011-12 girls’ soccer team as Pioneer state champions.
“I’m still speechless,” said sophomore outside hitter Jacquie Hornung, who is also the 2014 News and Tribune Softball Player of the Year. “It still feels good to talk about it. The Providence community is great. It’s a big family. I still get people who congratulate me today.”
“I never would have guess I would have been able to experience two state championships since I’ve been at Providence,” Golembeski said. “The excitement has been overwhelming. Now comes the expectations of repeats for some of the teams. Also, there’s the expectations of the others programs to excel, as well — and they will. They all have the same mindset.”
While the volleyball team was expected to compete for a state championship after reaching the state finals the previous year, the boys’ soccer success was a bit of a surprise.
The Pioneers made it to the semistate championship the previous fall, but they entered the 2013 tournament at 8-6-2. However, the inexperienced squad blew through the sectional without giving up a goal then beat Jac-Cen-Del 3-0 and Trinity Lutheran 5-0 to claim the regional crown. The following Saturday, Providence toppled Oldenburg Academy 2-0 and Forest Park 1-0 in overtime to reach the state finals.
The 2013-14 Pioneer soccer team became the first boys’ state finalist in any sport in Providence history.
“We had some high expectations, but we weren’t quite sure how the pieces would fall together after losing two of our leading scorers [from 2012],” soccer coach Brandon Rogers said. “We kind of struggled all year long with goal scoring. We moved pieces around all year, then three-quarters of the way through the season, it all clicked. Going into the tournament, I truly felt we had a good opportunity.”
“I’ll tell you plain and simple, it was a case of the boys not wanting the girls to have all the fun,” Golembeski said. “They worked hard. It was a young team but a very talented group. They played the best team in the state and lost by one goal.”
The one goal the Pioneers gave up in the postseason — in a 1-0 loss to Guerin Catholic — kept them from the state championship.
“We were solid as could be,” Rogers said of his defense. “The communication stepped up and they started believing in themselves. That was the key.”
The program’s fall success didn’t end with boys’ soccer and volleyball. The girls’ soccer team continued their recent success with a strong year that ended in a shootout against eventual-sectional champion Floyd Central. Both the girls’ and boys’ cross country teams advanced to the regional and Lincoln Ottersbach and Spencer Mitchell qualified for the semistate.
“There are some other things people may not see, like girls’ golf — the improvement they made from the beginning of the year to the end of the year,” Golembeski said. “Our tennis team had a strong fall. They didn’t win a sectional, but they competed extremely well.”
Then there was the football team, which had little expectation of it coming off a 3-7 campaign in 2012. The Pioneers started 1-3 in 2013 but won six in a row, including a 35-13 win over Jeffersonville, a 49-12 victory over Charlestown and a 56-6 sectional triumph over Indianapolis Manual.
“I thought what our football team did was tremendous,” Golembeski said.
The winter didn’t produce any postseason championships, but the girls’ basketball team had its best season in 11 years with 13 wins, including a Henryville Tipoff Tournament championship.
The boys’ basketball team went 15-7 and advanced to the sectional championship game despite losing all five starters from its 2012-13 squad.
Matt Hayes won a 182-pound sectional championship in wrestling and was joined by teammate Blake Logsdon in the Jeffersonville Regional. Hayes qualified for the semistate.
“That’s a program that’s growing,” Golembeski said of Patrick Fleming’s wrestling team. “He’s building our junior high program back up.”
Providence capped its sports year with a fantastic spring season.
The 2013 Pioneer softball team became the first in the program’s history to win three consecutive sectional titles and two regionals in a row.
“Before this stretch, Providence only had one winning postseason,” softball coach Sean Payne explained. “It’s a nice little run we’re on right now. Any time you can get three in a row, it’s a lot of luck and a lot of hard work to make sure that happens.”
The Pioneer baseball team went 18-10 and won its second straight sectional title, its fifth in six years and 10th in the past 16 seasons.
“Softball and baseball in the spring was just absolutely tremendous,” Golembeski said.
The Providence girls’ track team finished third at the Corydon Central Sectional and sent a pair of athletes to the state finals. Senior Charmaine Solis was 17th in the 400-meter dash and freshman Bayley Wade was 23rd in the 800.
The traditionally-strong Providence boys’ golf team finished third in the sectional and just missed out on sending Mitchell Allender to state.
With the volleyball team, the boys’ soccer team, plus its baseball and softball squads filled with young athletes, Providence expects to compete for more state championships in the near future.
“Honestly, we expect it to continue in the coming years,” Golembeski predicted. “Success is breeding success in a lot of ways.”
Volleyball title propels Pioneers to the top
It was another banner year at Providence.
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