The Emerald Staff finished the C-League sand volleyball league as CHAMPIONS. Before he realized that “The Pilot” does not accept press releases, Jed wrote the following (slightly hyperbolic) overview of the winning season:
“Flying Unicorns Soar to Steamboat Volleyball Glory”
Last Thursday (8/30), in what could be argued as the greatest sporting accomplishment by a collection of forty-something-year-olds in Steamboat history, the Flying Unicorns defeated Chacos and Socks to claim the 2018 C-League Volleyball Championships. At least two spectators and one dog were still at the Howelsen beach courts at 11:15 p.m. to see the final point, which capped a thrilling comeback in a match for the ages. For whatever reason, the tournament was designed as double elimination, and the Unicorns entered the Final undefeated, having overcome the One Hit Wonders in three games during the Semis earlier that same evening. Chacos and Socks posed a formidable obstacle, having recovered from a quarterfinal loss to One Hit Wonders, and they arrived at the Final on a ferocious run of success. Moreover, they had defeated the Unicorns handily during the teams’ regular season match in a two-game route so lopsided that they admitted not remembering it had happened. In perhaps an attempt at psychological intimidation before the Final, the star setter for Chacos asked the Unicorns, “Wait, when did we ever play you guys?” And, indeed, the Chacos domination carried into the first two games, which they won easily to hand the Unicorns their first loss of the tournament.
Both teams then quickly regrouped for what became the actual Final – the final Final, you might say – wherein the Chacos took the first game 25-20. All seemed lost for the Unicorns. It was like Top Gun: no, not the volleyball scene, but right near the end of the movie when Iceman is left floundering, alone and overmatched, amid a torrent of enemy fire. Their own player-coach, figuring correctly that the four Unicorns on the court would not be dragged off for a substitute, left midway through the second game to enjoy the company of her date. But the Unicorns never lost the stalwart perspective and frugal endurance that had carried them through the season. The team is comprised mostly of teachers from Emerald Mountain School. Having already prospered during the opening days of the school year, and knowing full-well that they would need to inspire local youth at 8:00 the next morning, they were never rattled. An unconfirmed sideline source overheard the Unicorns setter state to their blocker between games, “We’re not losing this thing.” A chill went through the air.
The second game proved the deciding pivot in the epic storyline. It was like Braveheart: no, not the end of the movie, but the Battle of Stirling when the undersized Scots turned the table on their deservedly confident foes. The score wavered back and forth in small increments while both teams dug, clawed, and scrambled valiantly. The Unicorns folded three game points after leading 24-21, then fought off one match point at 24-25 to finally win 27-25. The third
game saw the Chacos back on their heels, realizing (too late) that the grey-haired Unicorns were for real. The moon shone, the northside tennis court lights were blinding, and a scent of manure floated on the breeze. The Unicorns buckled down, took the first few points on serve, then held true to the their only concrete game-plan throughout the season: “Just get everything back over the net.” It worked. They won 15-13, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, and rode the glory of eternal lore all the way to Sunpies where they recalled their accomplishments and toasted their opponents’ (who were also present) as hearty challengers.
Hayley Berg, EMS Spanish teacher and the Unicorns’ default coach, stated, “We’d like to thank the ten members of the Emerald Mountain School community who played for us at some point in the season and contributed their own sparkle to the Unicorns’ victory.”