About 2 weeks ago, I was blessed enough to have the opportunity to speak at Lockport Lower Elementary School’s Career Day.

When asked by a student the favorite part of my job, I told him that it was the unknown that kept me going — the idea that on any given day, I can wake up and witness history; that on any given day, I can see something that’s never been seen before and that may never be seen again.

Ya’ll, I think today was one of those days.

The South Terrebonne baseball team won the Class 4A State Championship in an absolute barnburner over North Vermilion — the type of game that you see and never forget.

That game can be analyzed and broken down blow-by-blow for hours. It was a chess match for the ages between two teams who, quite frankly, both deserved to win.

But I think the story inside of the story is where this victory becomes most interesting and also most inspirational.

The South Terrebonne community took a head-on lick from Hurricane Ida — a devastating blow that the community is still not nearly fully recovered from.

The Gators’ campus was severely damaged after the storm — so much so that the team had 0 use of its campus, nor its athletic facilities for the entire 2021-2022 school year.

When the baseball season started, those challenges proved difficult. The talented Gators struggled to start the year, then labored even more in district play, losing their first 6 games. Those early struggles pushed the team into the postseason with a losing record, and many forgot about them when listing their favorites in a brutally tough Class 4A.

But the Gators never faltered.

South Terrebonne entered the playoffs, then got hot, no-hitting Plaquemine in the opening round, then recording a sweep of No. 2 Neville.

In the 3rd round, the Gators won the Battle of the Bayou, taking 2-straight exciting games over rival South Lafourche — an emotional series that showcased both the sheer talent of our area, but also the resiliency of the kids who have had to endure hell in the past 2-3 years with the storm and COVID.

After that Tarpons’ series went final, Gators’ coach Mike Barba was moved to tears with pride and happiness for his team, but also pain and sorrow for the Tarpons who fought, but came up short.

As he was walking out of the park, Barba told me that his team would be going to Sulphur for Terrebonne, but also for Lafourche and that they knew that when they took the field in the semifinals and finals that they would be playing for something bigger than themselves: the pride and love our Bayou Region.

And they did us proud and brought it home!

The Gators pushed past Lakeshore in the Semifinals, then had to tackle Herculean North Vermilion in the finals — a team that had only been beaten twice all season.

The crowd in Sulphur was about even, but the spirit of the Bayou Region was firmly behind the Gators. As I broadcast the game on radio, I got messages from 76 people asking me the score of the game and/or for an update. Thousands more listened to or followed the game from home to root for their new adopted school for the weekend.

And they pulled it off, and they did so in a game that was a microcosm of life in the past several years in our region. They were down, but never out, and they just kept on swinging.

As I left Sulphur, my eyes were wide, but not as wide as my smile. As I got in the car and loaded up the caravan, I knew that I had seen history, but I also knew that I had just witnessed a story that would make people proud at a time when people needed something to be proud of.

Our community is strong. Our community is tough.

Our community will never back down from a challenge, nor a fight. And neither will these Gators. And they now have the trophy to prove it — a trophy that this Tarpon is damn proud of, and that I know Trojans, Tigers, Cardinals, Patriots, Terriers, Braves, Warriors and Lions are proud of around our area, as well.

Congratulations to Coach Barba and South Terrebonne — a historic win at a time when our area needed one.

A win that shows that there is still fight left in our community — a pulse that will never, ever go away.

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