BELGRADE -- It's been a week to remember for the Belgrade softball team, winning their first Class AA state title in their first year at the level.
“It was probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever been through my entire life," said senior catcher Talyn Campbell. "Just jumping for joy, I still can’t believe it happened. It feels like a dream.”
It’s safe to say the Panthers are still on cloud nine after their championship win last weekend. For Campbell, this was her third state title and third ride on the firetruck.
“I don’t even have to hold on anymore," Campbell said about her experience on riding the firetruck. "They’re so fun. It’s just so fun to see all the people waving.”
Campbell was excited to celebrate with her team and see the support from the community cheering them on along the route.
“It really makes you get the chills and kind of start to tear up just to see how much everybody supports you,” she said.
For head coach Joey Roberts, it’s his fourth straight championship and firetruck parade with Belgrade, but first as head coach.
“They never get old, I’ll tell you that," Roberts said about hopping on the firetruck after a state title win. "They never get old. A lot of fun to celebrate our team and show off our girls and their accomplishments to our community here.”
The Montana Coaches Association named Roberts the Class AA softball coach of the year, and it’s well-deserved. His team was the first in Montana softball history to jump up a level and win it all.
“Just kind of always dreamed of this moment," he said. "Taking the helm and leading a team to the state championship -- especially a AA one, that’s just incredible and just a testament to this coaching staff. The assistant coaches we have and these girls are just wonderful.”
Roberts gives a lot of credit for the award to the players and assistant coaches, but it's the relationships he has made with the team and his head coaching style that plays a major role in the Panthers' success, now and in the future.
“He’s always our hype man and he always lets us know exactly what we need to do," Campbell said. "If we’re doing bad, he maybe gets on us a little bit, but then he hypes us up and is like, 'You guys have got this 100 percent.' He always told us we were a championship-caliber team. That really was put to heart. We all took that and we were like, 'Yeah, we really are, especially if he says it.' Just the amount of support he shows every girl, freshman to senior and he’ll help them no matter what in life and he’s really a sweet coach.”