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Trojan athletes on parade

June 29, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

Congratulatory letters from governors, like the ones Chambersburg Trojan Baseball Coach Bob Thomas and Assistant Coach Dave Etter received last week are not uncommon, except Gov. Ed Rendell said he hoped the two would enjoy their retirement.

"We're not doing that," Thomas said Monday after a few hundred people greeted the state championship baseball team and the runner-up girls softball team with a parade and ceremony in front of the Franklin County Courthouse.

Rendell subsequently sent letters congratulating Thomas, Etter and the rest of the Trojans on winning the PIAA Class III title, according to businessman Doug Harbach, who related the tale at Monday's celebration. It was the third title for Thomas, the head coach for 40 years, and Etter, whom Thomas said has been his assistant for 33 years.

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"It gave us chills when we were up there," shortstop Lindsay Tritle said of the ride atop a ladder truck downtown to the ceremony for the two teams. Family and friends were there, of course, but she and other players remarked on how many unfamiliar faces they saw in the crowd.

"There are a lot of people out here I don't even know," said first baseman Josh Frey. "It gives you a good feeling inside to see the community come together."

"I think it's great to see so much support from the community for both teams," said outfielder Amber Rock. "To see this many people was a nice surprise."

"This brings the community together as a family," catcher Andy Carter said.

Chambersburg achieved what no one involved could recall ever happening before - the same school sending teams to the state championship finals in softball and baseball.

On June 18, the boys defeated the Peters Township Indians 12-5 to take the baseball crown. The same day, the softball team fell a run short of bringing another championship to Chambersburg, losing 3-2 to the Shaler Titans in the title game.

Along with the governor's best wishes, there were letters from State Rep. Jeff Coy and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, a proclamation from Mayor Thomas Newcomer and a resolution read by Borough Council President William McLaughlin.

Newcomer noted that the combined record of the two teams under Thomas and softball coach Harvey Staver is 1,138-244. McLaughlin said he just came back from a convention of municipal officials and made sure they knew about the teams' successes.

"I can assure you, they all know where Chambersburg is," McLaughlin said.

Superintendent Edwin Sponseller said baseball and softball were not the only sports in which the Trojans performed well. During the past school year, nine teams captured division titles, he said.

"We have a very good group of kids here and they played very well. ... I'm very proud of them," Staver said. His teams won two state championships in the 1990s.

Having come so close to winning it all, however, made losing more difficult, Tritle said.

"It's so much harder to take," she said.

Several speakers noted that the road to the championship games for the players began long before they entered high school, a point Thomas also drove home.

"I want to thank all those coaches who, from T-ball up, helped mold these young men into a championship team," Thomas said.

"Someday, that team and this team are both going to win," he said, pointing to each squad.

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