By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
MURFREESBORO — Gone, but not forgotten.
When Brittney and Whitney Dodd lost the woman they considered their mother before the first round of the regional tournament, the entire Rebel Nation mourned with the Obion Central senior twins and rallied around them with open arms.
Their teammates continued to do so through the remainder of the postseason.
The inscription ‘MD’ — for Mama Dodd — along with a heart was written on the inside of most all players’ wrists before their games. The team also continued to warm up in T-shirts memorializing Teresa Dodd’s unexpected death, something the Lady Rebels initially did in their first game after she passed away.
Understandably emotional after Saturday’s state title game loss against Christ Presbyterian Academy, the sisters said the compassion and love shown by the OCCHS family and especially their basketball sorority has helped them through the most difficult time of their young lives.
“My teammates have been amazing and I love them so much,” Brittney said, fighting through tears. “They’ve been so helpful in us getting through this.”
Whitney, who like her sister has also run cross country at OCCHS and will attend college with her sister at Dyersburg State, echoed Whitney’s comments.
“We’ve been through a lot, but our team has been like our family,” she said. “We could have never made it through this without their love and support.”
NO SWEAT — In an era where coaches’ attire ranges from three-piece suits and/or short skirts to wind pants, T-shirts and tennis shoes, Obion Central head coach Lyle LaRue has found a happy medium.
LaRue sported khaki pants and a golf polo with a Lady Rebel logo all season — choosing the comfort of casual wear over GQ and style.
He says there’s a reason for his wardrobe of choice.
“I’m a sweatter….make that a perspirer,” LaRue grinned, when asked to explain his benchwear. “Back in 1998-99, my first year as a head coach at Dyer County, I ruined about six or seven Sunday shirts and two or three silk ties. I just sweat so much. And on a school teacher’s budget, I knew I couldn’t afford to be buying expensive shirts and ties all the time.
“The second year, Nike started making the mock turtle necks and I tried those. They did a little better, but now they make these nice golf shirts that pull the perspiration away from you and I really like how they work for me. And the fans and those around me don’t have to see those big stains and the wringing wet shirts.”
Questioned after Friday’s nine-point semifinal win over Stone Memorial if he might break out the fancy duds for Saturday’s championship game vs. CPA, LaRue immediately shook his head side-to-side. He insisted it had nothing to do, though, with superstition.
“The biggest reason I won’t will be how it might affect the girls. I’m not superstitious, but some of them are. If they say me come out in a suit to coach, it might freak them out and throw them out of their routine or distract them. I certainly wouldn’t want to do that,” he said.
EARLY ARRIVAL — In keeping with their widespread reputation of having one of the most loyal followings of any program in the state, Obion Central fans were in character all week — but especially for Saturday’s championship game when they essentially turned Monte Hale Arena into a second Central Station.
The Rebel faithful began lining up to get in the Murphy Center doors more than two hours before tip-off and far outnumbered those from CPA.
Estimates were that the Red, White and Blue-clad OC backers numbered in the neighborhood of 3,000
“It’s who they are and what they do, and we just expect it,” LaRue said of his team’s fan base. “Our people are so good to our program and our kids, and they’ll never know what it means to us.
“No question, they are worth points, even though it doesn’t show up on the scoreboard.”
Many of those same fans were in attendance at a welcome home celebration for the team Sunday afternoon at the school.
THIS AND THAT — The Obion Central girls’ program is now 5-14 in TSSAA-sponsored state tournament games. In addition to this year, the Lady Rebels went 2-1 in 1984-85 when they finished runners-up to Humboldt and 1-1 in 1966-67. OC lost first-round games in its other 11 appearances in the event. … In addition to the Dodd twins, and Macy Wright, who ended her illustrious Lady Rebel career with 1,722 points, Obion Central will graduate a fourth senior, Kris Storey. “Those four will be successful people in our society, successful mothers, successful wives and just good human beings,” LaRue said of his departing players. … The Messenger welcomed the services of photographer Heather Hobbs on their sports staff during the postseason.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 3.12.12