I watched as the fire department escorted the team, coaches and families through town as Fillmore Central's volleyball team headed off to the state tournament. I admit, I got a bit teary-eyed with pride as I thought about what those extraordi- nary young ladies were about to experience.

I watched again, the next day, as the fan bus and band memebers left town on their way to support the team and cheer them on to victory.

I felt excited for all of them, but also a bit sad as I was being left behind.

Our publisher, Dave Phillips, and our sports reporter, Bill Bentson, were both at the tourna- ment, covering the matches for our community newspapers, so I wasn't needed there in a professional capacity. I probably could have convinced Dave to change places with me, but I know that his pho- tography skills are much better than my own, especially in a sports set- ting.

So, I stayed behind to do my job here and did the best I could to stay focused. I did pretty well until the actual games were about to begin. Not only did I have the games streaming on the Internet, I also tuned into KFIL to listen to the play-by-play from there. It wasn't as good as being there, but it was still better than not being involved at all.

I tried to work while watching and listening to the game, but my brain was too stimulated to focus on work for any great length of time. Finally, I gave up trying to work at all and decided I would simply stay at the office later in the evening to make up for it.

Watching the Falcon volleyball team is like watching a well-oiled machine responding and planning to pass the ball between the players. Their reactions to kills and near- aces from the other teams were impressive. Many times I thought the ball was out of play, but saw it take to the air once again and sail

over the net into the other team's court.

I loved watching the Falcon team manipulate its opponent and setupaballforakillonlytotipit gently in the opposite direction. These players are smart and they communicated well to the detri- ment of the other teams they met.

Listening to both KFIL and the live Internet stream, I knew that the band was rocking the arena and the fans were representing all of us who had been left behind. My heart was definitely there with the team and the community members who were there.

Social media is certainly a won- derful tool for sharing excitement during times like these. Even while the games were being played, Facebook statuses kept changing with updates on scores, player stats and reactions to the game. It defi- nitely strengthened the connection for those of us at home to those of us in the Xcel Energy Center.

I had family visiting on

Saturday so did not get to listen or watch the championship match. When I heard the results, I have to admit I wasn't as sad or as disap- pointed as I thought I would be. Yes, the Falcons lost that final match, but they were still champi- ons in my heart and the journey they had taken our community on was priceless.

I am so proud of those volley- ball players, their coaches and their fans. This has been an incredible season and there is so much to be proud of.

Taylor Case and Tori Peterson, as the only seniors on the team, proved to be wonderful leaders for their teammates, but also mentors and role models for younger and future volleyball players. I have no doubt they will have bright futures in their college athletic careers and I hope they know the impact they have had on their school and com- munity.

As I visited with my family at my home on Saturday night, I heard the sirens and the cheering of the team being escorted through town as it returned home. The experience had come full circle and the team and fans brought a bit of the energy and excitement home to share with those of us who had been left behind.

Thanks for a great season, Lady Falcons. You have made your com- munity proud.