BRITTANY BREVIK: The B brings out our best
On Wednesday afternoon, sirens could be heard all over Cavalier, N.D. There was no emergency. But there were Tornadoes. That's because the Cavalier High School boys basketball team is back at the Class B state tournament, and the fire trucks, lig...
On Wednesday afternoon, sirens could be heard all over Cavalier, N.D.
There was no emergency. But there were Tornadoes.
That's because the Cavalier High School boys basketball team is back at the Class B state tournament, and the fire trucks, lights and sirens are the typical send-off for any Tornadoes on their way to The B.
The team bus was escorted for several laps around town by emergency vehicles, passing storefronts with "Go Tornadoes" and "Good Luck" signs taped to front windows; by the banks with electronic signs wishing them well, and finally, out of town, headed west to Minot.
If you're not from a small Class B school in North Dakota, all this hoopla may be difficult to understand. But there's nothing like making it to Class B state in basketball.
Some of my most memorable experiences growing up in Cavalier were watching the Tornadoes win back-to-back-to-back state football titles in 2002-2004 and multiple baseball championships.
As great as those teams were, and as good as those wins felt, nothing was as big as the boys basketball team making state in 2004.
The town buzzes about its sports teams all year, but a berth in The B puts the community of about 1,300 in a frenzy.
I was lucky to experience this twice -- in 2004 and again in 2010, when my little brother's team earned a trip to Minot.
The community is a family. Funds are raised. Hotdishes are cooked. Potlucks are held. Posters are made all week before The B.
The excitement builds when you arrive in Minot, but the work doesn't stop. The hospitality room needs to be decorated, as well as your team's section in the arena. And, of course, the hallways at the team hotel. No one is exempt from the work -- players' moms help the cheerleaders paint signs, and the fathers are hired to hang them up.
All this is done with smiling faces. Sandy Laxdal, Cavalier's athletic director, described it as "being on Cloud 9 for three days in a row."
Former UND football standout and Cavalier native Brady Trenbeath, who lives in Grand Forks, took a trip home this past weekend. He was part of the 2004 team that placed fourth at state. On Sunday night -- after a potluck dinner -- he spoke to the team and fans about what it meant to go to the state tournament.
His message, Laxdal said, was: 'Enjoy it. It's an experience you can't ever replace.'
My favorite aspect about The B, besides the family atmosphere, is thinking about the opportunity each team has. When I watched my brother and his friends -- kids I'd watched grow up -- at state in 2010, there was one thing I wanted most for them.
Not a state title, just an appreciation of what they'd already accomplished.
They rallied a whole town, stoked our community pride, put us into action and took us to Minot.
This year's team could bring a title home. They could take fourth, like in 2004, or pick up third, as in 2010. No matter how they place, in the eyes of roughly 1,300 people, they're already heroes.
Most community members will make the trip to Minot. For those who can't, the Tornadoes' games will be shown on the big screen at Cavalier Cinema on Main Street.
But if you're the last one to leave Cavalier today, go ahead and shut the lights off. Don't worry -- the fire trucks will be waiting a few miles out of town to escort the boys home on Sunday.
Brevik is a sports copy editor. Reach her at (701) 780-1126; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1126; or send email to email@example.com .