It would be hard to blame any athlete or coach for turning on cruise control and coasting through the 2020-21 winter season. Given everything that went on in 2020, simply having the chance to participate in sports again could have been enough. During a point in time when the world is still in an odd place, games and practices provide athletes and coaches with a shred of normalcy.
Rick Regan had reason to settle for that as much as anyone, entering his first year as head coach of the Old Rochester Regional girls basketball team. Not to mention, he only had one senior, Meghan Horan, on the roster. But he and his players showed from day one they had no interest in simply getting back on the court, capping off their perfect 10-0 season with a 41-35 victory over Dighton-Rehoboth in the South Coast Conference championship game.
“We tried to take it a day at a time, and we talked about getting better every day. That goes for the girls, and that goes for the coaches, too,” Regan said. “We try to work at it so that way we prepare them. That’s our job. We prepare them, but they go out and do it. They just do a terrific job of listening and trying to do what’s in the best interest of the team.
“What’s great about them is they’re not concerned about their individual accolades; they’re more concerned about coming together as a team. I think that was one of the big reasons (for our success), and Meg is a big part of that because she’s our leader and follows that idea and brings it forward. And the girls follow her.”
As was the case most of the season, Horan led the Bulldogs with 16 points and 13 rebounds in their SCC title win. The lone member of the Class of 2021 on the roster won’t be forgotten as she closes this chapter in her basketball career, but her teammates will remember her for more than her strong play.
“Although this season turned out the way it was— and it probably wasn’t how she wanted her senior year of basketball to go— I think Meg did a great job of being our captain,” junior Logan Fernandes said. “She held us all together. Whenever we were down, even if she was fouled out or not in the game, I would hear Meg screaming for us on the court. I think she was a great influence for the whole team. She was a great captain. I think she was a good leader, and I think Coach (Regan) did a good job.”
On multiple occasions, Horan has expressed her excitement for ORR basketball going into next season. But her willingness to help guide her teammates wasn’t rooted in her investment in the team’s success next season, as important to her as that is. It’s just who Horan is. Being able to be herself in a strange, though successful, season allowed her to learn an important life lesson.
“Flexibility and adapting to change,” Horan said. “This year, it was important to adapt to change quickly. From that, I was able to become more of a leader and a bigger voice on the court because I was flexible and grew into my position. Being able to accept that it was only going to be a 10-game season and working with other changes was important.”
For those who will be with the program again in 2021-22, the experience from this season was extremely valuable. The Bulldogs, who battled various types of adversity, including a shortened schedule and pause in play to quarantine, were committed to working as one unit and were successful. The sky’s the limit next season.
“I’m excited,” Maggie Brogioli said. “We’ll have a strong senior class. The majority of us have been playing together since sixth grade. I think we’ll be strong and have a good season.”
By Nick Friar