Osman trying to equal her sister in state title rings
SHADYSIDE — Haleigh Osman remembers where she was on June 6, 2015.
She was in the stands at Firestone Stadium in Akron watching her sister, Mackenzie, help hoist the Division IV softball state championship trophy after Shadyside’s thrilling 1-0, eight-inning triumph against Triad.
From that point, she hoped to one day be in the same spot. This week, she’ll have her chance, although in a different sport.
Osman and the rest of the LTs will play for the school’s first basketball crown, the first step coming Friday afternoon at 3 against Ottoville in a D4 semifinal inside the Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity,” she said prior to Wednesday’s practice at Shadyside High School. “I think everyone is really excited. Everyone on our team knew we had it in us.”
The feeling permeating Tiger Town is similar to the one four years ago when Shadyside made its run to the state softball tournament. Haleigh Osman was an eighth grader that spring, and she remembers vividly the excitement created by the two weeks of regional and state tournament action that culminated with the championship.
“I just remember how many people from the community came out to support the team,” she recalled. “It was just an awesome day. I just knew they were going to get it. I just knew it.”
Mackenzie Osman remembers the day, too. Although at the time, the gravity of the moment didn’t quite resonate with her.
“At the time, I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was,” Osman, then a freshman said this week as spring break from her freshman year at Ohio State wound down. “But when you look back on things, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
That’s what she’s trying to impress on her sister this week.
“I’m just telling her to live in the moment,” she said. “I look back on it now and there’s little details I remember that when they were happening didn’t seem like much. But you look back and you’re like, ‘Whoa!.'”
One of Mackenzie’s favorite moments of that day in Akron was the postgame celebration. Following the presentation of the trophy by OHSAA Director of Communications Tim Stried and all of the other pomp and circumstance, family and community members were allowed on to the field to celebrate as the sun began to set.
“The first person I saw were my mom and dad and Haleigh,” she said, chuckling at the memory. “She was right there yelling ‘Kenny, Kenny.”
The moment certainly caught Haleigh’s attention.
“When I was in junior high I really never paid much attention to a state tournament,” she said. “Seeing my sister win it was awesome.”
And it also gave her something to shoot for.
“When your sister wins a state title it really sets a precedent,” she said.
Mackenzie said being part of the title team did spark some good-natured ribbing.
“Haleigh is my best friend,” she said. “But we have kind of a competitive thing, but a fun thing where I’m like ‘I’m the only one with a ring.'”
That could change by Saturday night. And the one with the ring would welcome it.
“I’m really happy for her and all the LTs,” Mackenzie said. “I told her that the other girls will be nervous, too, just like the fans and parents.
“But everyone is there for you. They have a great support system. That’s the best thing about Shadyside. It’s a town that rallies around everyone. I think if (the team) remembers that that will take a lot of pressure off. Everyone is so proud of them.”
The younger Osman is eager to help “bring it home.”
“I think we struggled a bit early (in the regional games) and had everyone a bit worried,” she said. “But we really came together as a team.
“We’re in a position now where we know we can do it and I think everyone will pull together and surprise a lot of people.”