Three is the magic number. It’s the only number the Winter Haven Lady Blue Devils are thinking about this summer.
“Three? We talk about it," Winter Haven head coach Johnnie Lawson said. "It would mean the world to me, there’s no question. I mean, this is what we play for. We play to win championships. “
“Something I always wanted to do was to create history at this school," senior point guard Diamond Battles said, "so winning number three and having three rings is something that would be so amazing for me and I really want to work for it.”
The way the two-time defending state champs are working out, you’d think their season started next week, not in four months. But when you’re at the top of the mountain and want to stay there, summer practices are a must.
“Once you win two in a row, everybody’s at your back and it’s like we have the target still," Battles said. "We’ve always had this target, so we come in day and night. We have to work like if we didn’t win.”
Part of the summer program includes coaching up the youth players, middle school aged girls who aspire to a Lady Blue Devil one day. Older players paying it forward to keep the Winter Haven legacy intact.
“The older girls know, that’s part of their duty," Lawson said. "We’ve given to them and they have to come back and give to these girls. They’re excited about it.
"They just love watching the ones that want to be the next Diamond, that want to be the next Tyia Singleton or a Zakiyah Franklin. They all come in here and they bust their tales.”
They’ve got the state titles. They’ve got the bling. Now they want national recognition. Only the best in the country get an invitation to Nationals every year.
The Lady Blue Devils are putting in the work now to make sure they’re on the invite list.