Lady Warriors Basketball Team Gets Championship Rings At FHS Fête

The Lady Warriors basketball team members and coaches model their championship rings. Looking on, at left, are Jonathan and Craig Slass, who donated the rings, and FHS Athletic Director Ken Margolin.

More than 100 people gathered in the Franklin High School gym to cheer on the 2016-17 Lady Warriors’ basketball team one more time.

This wasn’t for a game, this was a celebratory dinner, the highlight of which was the awarding of 2017 state championship rings to the team.

Team members were also given special plaques by coach Audrey Taylor, and the Athletic Booster Club unveiled the banners for the Group IV and state Tournament of Champions championships, which will be hung in the gym.

Three months after the Lady Warriors brought home the program’s first-ever state championship, words like ‘amazing” and “awesome” were still being used to describe the win, and the season.

“Amazing would be the word for me,” Taylor told the crowd. “These girls just had a motor. Their motor never stopped, never slowed down, they gave it to you without asking.”

“With these girls, I never had to coach effort,” she said. “They always gave me 110 percent without me having to beg for it. And I have had teams where I’ve had to beg for it. But these girls gave 110 percent and the best part about these girls here is, not everybody had their moment on the court, but they came to every single practice with a positive attitude, thinking, it’s not about me, it’s about my team. I can’t thank them enough for being so selfless, because that’s really hard to do at a young age.”

“I couldn’t be more proud of these young ladies,” she said.

Taylor said she learns something from every team she coaches. The 2015-16 team, she said, taught her “that even though I was tough on them, that sometimes I had to show them that I loved them, too. That was good for me.”

This team, Taylor said, “taught me how to have fun. They laughed more than I could handle at moments.”

After giving them their plaques, which included photos of the team after they won the championship, and when they were on the floor of the State Assembly receiving a proclamation, Taylor said, “So from me to you, I couldn’t be more proud of every last one of you and when I tell you, and I look you in your eyes and say I love you, I truly, truly mean it. You guys have blessed me, it’s been an honor to coach you. I wouldn’t know what to do with any other group, I wouldn’t want any other group in this whole entire state.”

Ken Margolin, the first-year school athletic director, thanked the team for “making my rookie season an amazing thing.”

“Some people are in this position for a number of years, and they do not get to be part of and witness a run that these young ladies have been on,” he said.

Margolin also thanked school board vice president Nancy LaCorte and her husband, Bob, the booster club and the district’s administration for helping to plan the event.

Mayor Phil Kramer said the championship game “was storybook, it was movies. You guys are just so wonderful.”

“You are ambassadors for this town, now worldwide ambassadors for this town, and you are ambassadors to this town, to tell people how great this school is,” he said. “We love you guys, we love what you’ve done. We recognize you for winning, but the real lesson you bring us all is not winning, it’s the dedication that got you there.”

Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine told the team that even if they hadn’t won, “the teamwork, the camaraderie, the goal setting and the struggle to achieve those goals is the sweetest and most important part.”

“Victory often goes to the person who wants it more,” he said. “Always remember that winners are people who expect to win in advance. Your victory is well deserved.”

Board of Education president Ed Potosnak said the board is “very proud of your accomplishments, both on the court and academically.”

“You continue to demonstrate tremendous cooperation, tremendous trust for one another, a real caring and love, a love for the game, a love for your opponents, a love for the missed shots,” he said. “It’s a story for all of us when we’re working together on a team.”

The cost of the championship rings was underwritten by township-based Rotor Clip Co. Craig and Jonathan Slass, co-presidents of the company, were also on hand to congratulate the girls.

“We were asked to donate rings, I said how much, we were told, we did it,” Jonathan Slass said. “How did we do that, how did we get money for this? We did it by going to work every day, working hard and keep practicing and practicing and practicing until we won. Works for athletics, works for academics.”

“We make rings,” he said. “Retaining rings, championship rings, sounds good. Win again.”

Craig Slass told the girls that when they become famous, “donate back to this school.”

Here are some scenes from the evening:

2017 FHS Lady Warriors Basketball Ring Dinner


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