For me, the 1994 season is a strange one. On one hand, the players that spearheaded the title run were so familiar, having been my son's teammates the previous year. On the other hand, I was more detached from the Warrior title run of 1994 than I had been since the 1989 championship. Joel was now playing for Morningside College and we travelled to most of the games. The North Central Conference that Morningside played in held most of their games on Friday and Saturday nights, so while the Warriors were competing in Wahoo we would be on the road to such far away venues as Fargo, North Dakota or St. Cloud, Minnesota. But when I did get the opportunity to watch the 1994 Warriors, I immediately came to an inescapable conclusion: this was a continuation of the dominance from the previous year. Indeed, the blitzkrieg attack that the 1993 team had employed might have even intensified some. (Note: I'm not saying the team was better – I'm not getting drawn into that discussion. But certainly the defensive pressure and offensive fire power deployed in 1993 had not abated.) The offensive average in 1994 was even higher (by 1.5 points). I often felt I was watching video of 1993 as Wahoo jumped on opponents early and sent them scrambling for timeouts (the first quarter average of 26 was the highest ever as was the average lead of 16.1 at the end of the first quarter). Of course, my emotional involvement in the games was down a bit, but I was still more than willing to acknowledge that I was from Wahoo.
While I was absent from many of the games, I was still teaching next door to Coach Anderson and therefore very much aware of what was going on with the team. Or, so I thought – I was quite caught by surprise when he announced his retirement. For many his decision was difficult to understand. For me, all the reasons he gave for deciding to step down were legitimate, but most of all I applauded his willingness to "go out on top." There had been a lot of pressure applied to a high school coaching position and I thought he deserved a break – of course, I didn't have a son who would have been playing for him the next season. As far as having Mark Watton named as his successor, I had no problem with that either. He was a colleague who I respected as a coach. If I had any negative thoughts, they were along the lines of hoping it all worked out well as those who had to follow "legends" usually found it tough sledding. And while there was an abundance of talent in the lower classes, some of it was untried. The program was losing a lot with the graduating class of 1994.
Needless to say, we did attend the games when we weren’t on the road. By the time the state tournament rolled around Joel's season at Morningside was over. It had been quite a contrast to his years as a Wahoo Warrior. The Chiefs didn't win every game. In fact, they struggled through a 13 – 16 season. However, they did make a run at the conference championship in the post season tournament, reaching the finals. But when they lost to North Dakota they missed out on a bid to the national tournament and the season ended. As with most college athletes, Joel's first season was a little bit of a culture shock. He went from being a starter and winning every game to being a back-up point guard and losing more than winning. But he did see significant playing time as a freshman and the team was graduating only one senior – things would get better.
So the Weyand clan did pack up and head to Lincoln again for the state tournament. Joel had brought a couple of his team-mates back earlier in the year to witness the Mount Michael game – show them that the win streak, the championships, and the style of play weren't a myth. With his season over he was able to return for the state championship game. I'm sure it felt strange to him to be so disconnected from an experience he had been so much a part of before. His picture on the front of the Journal-Star "Tourney Time" section was a vivid reminder of where he had been just a year ago. But he was elated that his former teammates were able to claim another title – keep the tradition going. As he watched them cut down the nets he had to be thinking, "I know what that feels like."
As I looked ahead that spring I knew our connection to Wahoo basketball would continue to fade. We congratulated the boys and coaches on their 1994 Championship and then turned our attention to our own upcoming celebration – as mentioned in 1993, Julie and Cliff had become engaged. The wedding was on March 19th, a week after the tournament. Life marches on.
1994 had been a big change for the Weyand family. The next year was going to bring major change to the Wahoo basketball program as Coach Watton would take on the head coaching duties. As I watched Coach Anderson standing in the championship spotlight for the last time I could imagine The Eagles singing, "'Cause I'm already gone; and I'm feelin' strong; I will sing this vict'ry song; woo, hoo, hoo, woo, hoo, hoo."
*Already Gone by The Eagles