AP NEWS

Together as one

February 22, 2019

MICHIGAN CITY — The stories of Marquette Catholic’s four seasons of success have been well chronicled, but there’s a much lighter side to the Blazers that isn’t commonly known outside the inner circle.

There was the time they played hide-and-seek in a Dick’s Sporting Goods store, leading to a talk with coach Katie Collignon after the employees told them to knock it off.

How about when they tried to prank their head coach in the locker room with an artificial “fart noise” phone app, infuriating Collignon to the point where Sophia Nolan said, “OK, we’re not trying to prank her every again”?

“That was the very first time we pranked Coach K, but it didn’t work out because we played really bad,” Sophia’s sister Emma said, laughing.

It was the first — and last — time the team ever tried to prank Collignon, Morgan Cook noted.

“Coach wasn’t really mad at first, but later, she was like, ‘That fart machine!’ Emmery Joseph said. “We were like, ‘yeah, we’re not doing that anymore.’”

The Blazers spent much of their immediate post-school time prepping for their rematch with undefeated Vincennes Rivet on Saturday in the Class A state championship in Indianapolis, but for a while before practice on Wednesday, the senior group sat around joyously telling hilarious tales of the last four years before their final high school game together.

“We got down there (Plainfield) early and coach was like, ‘OK, we’ll just go to this little mall and we’ll shop around,’” Crook said. “We were all cooped up in the bus forever, so we went to Dick’s (Sporting Goods) and we said, ‘Hey, let’s play hide-and-go seek.’ We’re the only people in the store. The workers continued to yell at us and Coach K got so mad at us. She was like, ‘You guys are acting like a bunch of children!’”

If Collignon hadn’t comically blasted the scoreboard buzzer about seven times to signify the start of practice, the Nolans, Crook, Joseph, Claire Salyer, Jorden Goodwin, Ukari Payne and Dia Rallings probably could’ve talked for hours about the hilarious times they’ve had on and off the floor at Marquette.

“It was summer ball (two summers ago) and we were basically scrimmaging and Emma had a steal on a fast break,” Goodwin said while trying to hold down laughter. “Nobody chased her because you know, she’s gonna make the layup. We all turn around to get back on defense and we just hear a scream, and we all turned around and Emma’s on the floor because she twisted her ankle or something and nobody else was around her.”

No worries though.

“I just landed weird,” Emma said with a laugh. “It was all weird.”

The stories flew in from every direction in the group and they continued to get better as the regaling went on.

“You might think Sophia’s the normal one with us, but she’s easily the weirdest one,” Emma said. “Every time it seems like Coach K comes in the locker room, she always catches Sophia doing the weirdest stuff.”

“She’s always trying to hype herself up for the game and she’s so weird all the time,” Joseph added.

Emma provided the insight.

“One time, Coach K walked in and Sophia had like, this string from her jersey up over her neck and these dribbling goggles on and she’s walking around all goofy and Coach K walks in the locker room and just turns around, ‘OK, OK, let’s try this again.’” Emma said. “She walks back in and Soph knocked all the stuff off her.”

There was also the time where the flatulent humor within the team accidentally began during their freshman season before a game.

“Before we played Andrean, coach (Jerry Bechtold) was giving us a pep talk and Sophie bent down to stretch and farted,” Payne said with another big laugh.

Sophia thought Bechtold would be mad, but, to his credit, he wasn’t.

“Coach was so calm, too! He was like, ‘I’ve never had that happen to me before,’” Crook said.

Sophia went on to tell the tale, also during their freshman season, of how former Blazers guard Amani Corral had an accident of sorts after taking a charge during a practice.

“Amani had to stop Kat(thryn Range) from making a layup,” Sophia said. “Amani was going and Kat went up, hit her and Amani went back, slid, hit the bleachers (behind the basket) and peed her pants. And she was laughing!”

“The next time Kat was up, nobody volunteered,” Crook added, “so Amani went, ‘I’ll go again!’”

The tales shifted back to when Collignon arrived on campus and to the time Rallings stole a pair of socks from her coach at a team Christmas party.

“We were in a Christmas tournament and everybody brings gifts to like, this White Elephant thing,” Rallings said.

“Coach was in that really cold house at that point and she’s like, ‘Oh, I need those socks,’” Crook said.

“We were all done and Dia was the last one and goes, ‘Um, Coach K, I want your socks,’” Emma said. “She got so mad.”

“Nobody else was gonna do it and I really wanted some fuzzy socks at the time,” Rallings said.

According to Joseph, Collignon will still get agitated if you ask her about those socks.

“I think I ended up giving them to my mom or something,” Rallings said.

“You’re so sweet, Dia. That’s awesome,” Joseph said.

“I think she stole them from my drawer, but it’s fine,” Rallings said.

There was even the rather awkward situation of walking into Dick’s Last Resort, a restaurant chain with a location in Indianapolis that intentionally hires their staff to be as obnoxious as possible, the night before last year’s state title game.

“We thought it would be a good idea to go to Dick’s Last Resort,” Joseph said. “We were at a place where the servers were literally just going around making fun of us. And then, Vincennes Rivet’s entire fan section showed up there and it was just back-and-forth all night at dinner.”

For all the hilarity that ensued among the Blazer seniors on Wednesday and in the past, there’s one constant among all of them come Saturday morning and that’s having fun while trying to win another state title.

“It’s all been crazy,” Joseph said. “But I think we can all agree that there isn’t another group of girls that we’d rather do all of this with. We’ve definitely become a family over the four years and there’s been highs and lows, but it’s all going to be an experience that were gonna remember forever.”

Reach Michael Whitlow at mwhitlow@thenewsdispatch.com or (219) 214-4169. Follow him on Twitter @couldbelikemike.