Ceremony was special for 1996 Bulldogs
Friday night was special for the Baldwin City community members that followed the 1996 Baldwin High School girls' basketball team and its state championship.
"Everybody was so nice to us and so supportive," said Audrey Millstein, 1997 BHS graduate. "That's why we won. It was like a team for the whole community."
The 1996 Bulldogs returned to Baldwin to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the state title. All three coaches, the manager and 11 of the 12 players returned for a ceremony Friday.
"It was great that everybody else was so excited about it," said Ann Martin, 1997 BHS graduate. "That made it even more special. Everybody made the effort to come back."
Martin also enjoyed seeing similar people in the gym that she saw in 1996.
"A lot of the same faces were in the gym tonight that were there 10 years ago," Martin said. "That was comforting to see."
Mandy Mundinger, 1996 BHS graduate, said she really enjoyed seeing team members again and catching up on their lives.
"It was very special, because I hadn't seen these people since my senior year, "Mundinger said. "It is nice to get back together and touch base."
After the varsity girls' game, the entire team was introduced and walked out to center court. Former BHS girls' coach Ted Zuzzio loved the evening.
"It was a very special night, because we were reunited with a wonderful class of girls first and athletes second," Zuzzio said. "We didn't really get into what those girls accomplished at Baldwin High."
Zuzzio also said the BHS girls' team returned in 1997 to finish runner-up at state. He also said that group of girls finished second at state track back-to-back years.
Zuzzio said he was impressed at how well each of them looked.
"All I can say is, wow, did they look beautiful," Zuzzio said. "They still look like they are in tremendous athletic shape."
Martin agreed, saying all of them are successful and look great.
"Everybody has changed for the better," Martin said. "Everybody looks great. It was a great moment in our lives, but it has led us to greater things. Everybody is successful and looks great."
Each member of the current BHS girls' varsity team presented the 1996 team with a commemorative t-shirt of the state championship. Then, after a few photos, the team and family members went to the teacher's lounge to enjoy some food while watching tapes of their state games.
Each of the three state games were being played on different televisions in the lounge.
"We're not as good as I thought we were," Martin said jokingly after watching the video. "It was exciting. There was as much tension in this room as there was in the Bicentennial Center that night."
Zuzzio said the games were fun to watch for the players and parents.
"It was exciting," Zuzzio said of watching the old games. "Some of them could still remember certain moments in the games, which was sort of cool. But I think the parents enjoyed it just as much as they did. It was just a special night for all of them."
Mundinger said she didn't recall much about the games, except the result.
"I don't remember a thing about them, other than the outcome," Mundinger said. "It still made me nervous to watch them."
Zuzzio said everybody wanted to keep watching the games, and even stood in excitement while watching.
"No one wanted to leave," Zuzzio said. "We had the three state games going in there and they were bouncing around watching all three. We had chairs in there, but most of the people were standing, which I thought was cool."
Mundinger thought the parents and Zuzzio did a fantastic job of putting the night together.
"He did a phenomenal job," Mundinger said of Zuzzio. "He went above and beyond. The parents and the families did a great job also. My hats off to them."
Zuzzio said he was ready to see all of them again, even though he has seen most of them sometime in the last 10 years.
"I saw three of them at Trina's (Bierman) wedding this summer," Zuzzio said. "I saw Audrey, Ann and Trina at the wedding. I saw Ali (Walbridge) at a couple of football games. Even though they don't live here in Baldwin, they touch base with me."
Millstein was also excited to get here and see her old teammates.
"Are you kidding me? I flew in from L.A.," Millstein said. "I couldn't wait to get here. I hadn't seen all of these people for so long."
At the ceremony, manager Chris Rose was honored first. Rose teaches physical education and coaches at Wellsville Middle School. He is married and his wife is expecting twins in July.
Along with Zuzzio, coaches Mike Curran and Mike Berg were honored. Curran was the junior varsity coach and is currently the head of the math department at BHS.
Berg was the freshman girls' coach in 1996. He is the seventh grade science teacher at Baldwin Junior High School and the head football coach at BHS.
"It was really special, because we had the best coaches ever," Millstein said. "They taught me about how to be a good person and how to work hard."
Wylie Taul was the only member of the team not able to return. Taul lives in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., and works as a family resource developer for Arizona's Children Association.
The other 11 members of the team returned. Abby Honomichl (Haight) is married and lives in Olathe and is a dental hygienist.
Courtney Stultz (Ruder) lives in Ballwin, Mo., and is a suites administrator for the St. Louis Cardinals. She is married with a 1-year-old son, Asa.
Stacy Zuzzio lives in Lenexa and is a graphic designer and is engaged to be married in September.
Alli Walbridge (Kenkel) is married, lives in Perry and works as a labor and employment attorney.
Corey Dunn lives in Lawrence and is a pharmacist for Wal-Mart.
Leanna Hulce (Ullom) is married, lives in McPherson and teaches at Moundridge Community Preschool.
Mandy Mundinger (Banks) is married and is a scientist living in Overland Park.
Trina Bierman (Dibbini) is married and living in Salina. She is a sixth-grade teacher at Lakewood Middle School and coaches basketball, volleyball and track.
Martin is the assistant director of athletics at Regis University in Thornton, Colo.
Millstein is living in Los Angeles as a personal trainer for the rich and famous. She is also studying comedy.
Mary Denning is living in Lawrence where she is a Ph.D. graduate student and working in the Human Subjects Research Department at the University of Kansas.
Coach Zuzzio also recognized others who contributed to the team and its success on Friday night, especially the players' parents and coaches' wives.