TROY - Talking about the future is something that basketball coaches, maybe all coaches, like to steer away from. It's usually hard to get the leader of a team to speculate about what may or may not happen down the road.
For the most part, coaches tend to live in the now.
Coach Eric Schuster of the Chautauqua Lake girls basketball team is no different, but after his team claimed its first-ever NYSPHSAA Class C championship with a 47-36 win over Hoosic Valley on Sunday, he had to acknowledge the bright future of his squad.
Photo by Jay Young
Chautauqua Lake girls basketball coach Eric Schuster, left, has completed a turnaround of the program that now includes a Class C state title.
"Well you know, we'll worry about next year when next year comes,'' he said. "We're going to enjoy this one right now. I told the kids that win or lose, we've accomplished a lot and I'm so thankful that we won. I've said it a million times, but these kids are special to me. I know one thing, these kids are going to continue to play basketball and this is something that they are going to remember for the rest of their lives, as well as I will.''
Next season, Chautauqua Lake will still have junior stars Ashton Albanesius, Jenna Einink and Courtney Hewes returning, but will be without senior starters Tara Hunt and Ashley Moulton.
"We have our two bigs coming back," Schuster said. "But to talk about those two seniors for a little bit, their leadership this year... Ashley Moulton throughout the playoffs was a big factor and so was Tara, obviously."
Without Moulton and Hunt returning, the Lady Thunderbirds will look for this season's bench players to step up and fill key roles and there are plenty of solid players waiting for their shot.
"I have a lot of expectations (for next season), but our underclassmen just really need to step up to show who is going to be in those two starting spots that we are losing," said Jenna Einink.
Whatever next season holds, the first state championship still means a lot to both Chautauqua Lake and the village of Mayville.
"Well, I'm going to throw this out there and say that I think (this win) means a lot,'' Schuster said. "I think Mayville needed this and I think we needed this; we're going go celebrate."
After picking up its first girls basketball state championship, there is now hope that success will beget success for Chautauqua Lake athletics.
"Yeah you know, you really think when you win a state championship that it could be contagious," said athletic director and principal Josh Liddell.
"Not only for girls basketball, but for other teams like softball, maybe volleyball. Hopefully when the older girls are here and out on the court, the young girls are watching so they know what it takes to get to that level. Hopefully they are watching and paying close attention, so maybe it can be them someday."
Schuster's humbleness may have prevented him from speculating about more success for this group of basketball players, but Liddell is certainly optimistic about what the 2014-15 season holds.
"They've got a lot of talent coming back and you know we have a good youth program now,'' he said. "One of the things we started was a really good youth program and the future looks bright. The thing that was great about these girls is that they fought the whole time. They had to fight for the win and never at one point did it look like they weren't giving 110 percent. It's a big thing for Chautauqua Lake, being the first state championship.''
A big thing indeed, and right now it looks like more big things are coming.