Waubonsie Valley athletics celebrates success over the winter sports season

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Players, coaches, students, and administrators at Waubonsie Valley High School will remember the 2024 winter athletics season, one where the Warriors made their marks in nearly every sport across the state of Illinois. 

“I’ve been here 11 years. We’ve had success bits and pieces. But I would say this was the most successful sports season that we’ve had, really exciting. I think one of the most exciting things was just seeing the community kind of come together, seeing faces in our crowds that, you know, I have not seen, just community members kind of coming back, seeing some old Waubonsie gear showing up to games. So really exciting,” said Waubonsie Valley athletic director Chris Neibch. 

Both girls and boys basketball programs had record-breaking seasons

It’s special for a school to have a strong boys and girls basketball team. This winter, both Warriors hoops programs had two of the best seasons in school history. Finding the right coaches and athletes willing to put in the work helped create this run of unprecedented success.

“It’s great for competition, and it’s great for the sport in itself. You know, I train basketball guys and work with a couple of guys Tyreke and Donovan, before the season. It’s good to see them do well. I think they have a great group of guys. Great group of young guys. I love to see other coaches do well as well. Andrew [Schweitzer] came in a little bit after me and took over the program, and it’s good to see him have great success early on in his career here,” said Waubonsie Valley girls basketball head coach, Brett Love. 

The boys team started off the season 23-0, including a victory over eventual state runner-up Normal Community, en route to winning their first-ever DVC title. The Warriors also lifted their first regional plaque since 2019 before the season ended earlier than hoped in the sectional semifinals to a tough Downers Grove North team.  

Waubonsie Valley girls basketball with their best every season in program history 

For the girls team, this was the best-ever campaign in program history. Tallying 32 wins on the season for a record high. The girls also captured the DVC title along with winning their first sectional title in 25 years. Following thrilling last-second victories over Benet Academy and Alton, the highlight of the season was making a trip down to the state tournament at ISU, where the Warriors finished in fourth place, earning the first-ever state trophy in program history. 

“The work ethic, the team chemistry, just the way we all flowed together on the court was just great. I mean, even from the start, the goal was state  right off the bat. We talked about it fully and everyone just came ready to work. Everyone was committed, everyone was at practice the whole time, stayed longer, came in early. We hung out after practices. I mean, just doing everything we could to work the best together on the court. And I think it went great. Everybody loved that and was all in for it,” said junior basketball player Lily Newton. 

Other Warrior sports shining in the spotlight during the Winter 

Basketball wasn’t the only sport that had a season to remember. The boys swimming and diving team continued its recent run of strong performances in the pool as the Warriors won a second consecutive sectional championship, followed by a third-place finish at the state championship meet. Only the third state trophy in program history.

The competitive dance team qualified for state along with the Waubonsie girls bowling team rolling through the DVC as the undefeated conference champions for the first time since 2017. In girls gymnastics, sophomore Lucia Caruso qualified for state on the floor exercise.

The final team to finish the winter sports schedule was the Warriors Hockey Club, which consists of 11 players from Waubonsie and nine from Metea Valley. The Warriors finished the regular season in first place in the Illinois West Hockey League and as runner-ups in the conference tournament. The highlight of the season for the hockey club was in the AHAI Combined Division Blackhawk Cup State Tournament, where the Warriors found themselves back in the state final at the United Center. 

Capping off a winter to remember in style, Waubonsie Valley junior James Naffziger scored the game-winner in overtime to give the Warriors the thrilling 2-1 victory over Chicago North and their fourth Blackhawk Cup trophy.

“We worked really hard all season for this, and when they tied it up at the end, it was hard to see, but we worked so hard in overtime to keep it up, and it worked out. So happy, my brother had a state championship. All I’ve done is just try to get it, just one up him, and I finally did it,” said Naffziger.

A Winter sports season that caused excitement on the Waubonsie Valley campus

All the success across a wide range of athletics created a wave of excitement across the Waubonsie Valley campus.

“There was a couple of instances, like with a few Fridays, where you could feel a building where some big games like we had with Neuqua and going into the regionals and going into the sectional championship. So those were great days, kind of like Football Fridays, where you knew something was going on, and people were excited about it. It was also nice to see the players in the hallways pumping up their classmates and doing announcements about it and just knowing that they had something to look forward to. So it really added to the spirit of the winter,” said Waubonsie Valley principal Jason Stipp. 

With teams making history and breaking records, it was a winter sports season that will go down in the history books for Waubonsie Valley athletics.