It's a rare thing at any age, in any season and in any sport — the benchmark of a truly great team — the undefeated season. Few athletes know what that's like, but the eighth-grade boys basketball team at , knows what it's like to win. And to keep winning.
Finishing its season with a 10-0 record, the team, coached by Hartland Middle School English teacher Steve Silverston, now understands what it’s like to be the best. Ego, however, was never a factor for the 18 young players, according to Silverston. In what he calls a team with no "character issues," the boys had a rare combination of character, drive and talent.
“I’ve taught and coached for 20 years,” Silverston said. “And this is one of the few times every player, from top to bottom — all 18 — they all contributed. … They came ready to play and work hard and have fun and help each other, and they did that every practice and every game.”
Winning their 10 games by an average of 21 points, the players proved that they were focused and dedicated and that the winning season was a team effort.
“If something bad happened, they didn’t blame the ref or me, they took accountability,” he said.
This type of attitude is part of what contributed to the team's success on and off the court, he said.
“They’re learning life lessons,” Silverston said. “I told them this quite a few times: They’ll be successful in whatever they do 'cause they have a good work ethic, they’re accountable, and they have character.”
Parents are proud of the accomplishment as well and credit Silverston for helping keep the team stay motivated.
"It really seemed like coach Silverston kept the team focused on hard work and teamwork as a way to accomplish their goal," Charles Marshall, a parent of a player, wrote in an email to Hartland Patch.
The goal for an undefeated season was set by the team right from the beginning. Silverston said he believed it was a possibility after he watched the players last year, as seventh-graders, go 8-2.
Setting the goal and being able to achieve it, however, was due to a frame of mind and willingness to work for it, Silverston said. He shared some comments from his players:
"Pride pushes yourself to make you better," eighth-grader Thomas Rivet wrote. "When you learn new stuff, you can practice it and get better to help you and your team."
"If I want to become good at something or develop excellence," eighth-grader John Baker wrote. "It all depends on me and what I want to achieve."
Pride, work ethic and commitment helped these players not only succeed as a team but made their coach, parents and school proud of that success.
"We’re very proud of them this year," Principal Steve Livingway said. "There weren’t a lot of hot dogs trying for their own individual, but a lot of good teamwork out there."
Silverston said he is happy that his team came away from this season with its 10-0 record and to have its efforts recognized, but it's what the players learned throughout those 10 games that makes Silverston even prouder of what he called a "special" group of boys.
"They learned something different in every game," Silverston said. "So yes, they were undefeated — but more importantly, they developed their strength and habits they already had to become better basketball players, better young men."
- Konlan Paul
- Noah Marshall
- Steven Pioch
Academic challenge season winners:
- Mattioli Dante
- Will Stokes
- Tim Mailarch/Alex Vydick (tied for third place)