Surviving and thriving, all the way to state

By John Weiss

RUSHFORD — The August flood in Rushford left a legacy of horror and heroism, destruction and devotion, chaos and community.

Now, you can add another consequence — the Rushford-Peterson girls basketball team’s trip to the state tournament.

The Trojans’ first game in the quarterfinals of the Class A tournament is at 11 a.m. Thursday against New Life Academy of Woodbury.


What makes a team push harder to get to the top, become a more-solid group and earn a trip to state never can be known.

But three team members whose families suffered when their homes or a business were flooded said the flood forged a tighter bond. Girls hauled mud and sanitized walls together. Out of that came a stronger team.

And for sure, volleyball, and now, basketball provided an escape from the mud and the mess.

Heather Vix, a junior starting guard, remembers waking up early Aug. 19 when her dad, Chad Vix, yelled at her to "grab everything I could;" it looked like Rush Creek was about to top its dike. It did, with horrible results. When Heather Vix came back several days later, "it didn’t look like my house; I was really shocked." But teammates helped haul half a foot of mud out of the basement.

It was a great morale booster. "You just want to be around the team and be with them and to get it off your mind," she said. "Our team is really close, and after that, I could see we were all emotional about it, we got more together, we clung together."

It also made the team tougher. "We had to show everybody that though the flood came, we were going to get over it," she said.

Jackie Holger, a junior forward/center, saw the house where she grew up badly damaged. Again, the volleyball and basketball teams gave amazing support, she said. "It was like the team … helped comfort you."

On the basketball court, she can forget the flood. "It’s two hours for me to get away from it all," she said.


For the team, "it brought us all together, and it made us stronger," Holger said.

Danielle Christian’s parents’ business, Stumpy’s restaurant, was heavily damaged and closed for several weeks. She had to scrape mud and clean up for 12 to 13 hours a day. Sports "helped me get my mind off it," said the sophomore guard.

She saw her teammates more. "We were working together more, spending more time, helping each other,"

Christian said.

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