The Hortonville Polar Bears are set for their first trip to state in 30 years. Hortonville fans and community have been waiting for this moment for the last three decades and this year’s Polar Bear team feels honored to be a part of that history. They’re hoping to bring that moment back for themselves, their team, and the community.
“Thirty years, that’s a long time,” said Hortonville senior Lexi Walter. “It’s incredible. Our coaching staff is great, the players are awesome, and I knew this was possible all along.”
Shay Frederick, a junior on the team, has been Hortonville’s leading scorer this year. She says though this game is at a bigger venue with more at stake, it’s still just another game.
“Really we just treated this week like any other week,” Frederick said. “Obviously it’s a big game, but with what we’ve been doing all year, we’ve been successful. We’re just trying to keep that same mindset and same mentality this week. We just have to stay focused. We’re not done yet.”
Hortonville should be well equipped to handle the challenges of the state tournament. They’ve battled with Division 1 teams all season long in the Fox Valley Association, including the top-ranked team in the state, Appleton North.
Hortonville coach, Celeste Ratka, is a former Polar Bear player and played her college ball at UW-Green Bay. She’s had experience in the NCAA Tournament with the Phoenix and has learned quite a bit as a college player and new head coach.
“If you get too strict and too serious, the kids don’t relax, and it’s going to be a tense moment when they step on the floor,” Ratka explained. “You want to relax them as much as possible and take those jitters away.”
On Wednesday, the players had a team-bonding activity, as a change of pace and reflect as a team.