Community unites behind Valley Rams during historic season

Published 8:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2023

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The community has rallied behind the Valley boys basketball team in what could be their final year as the Rams. The team is undefeated and has reached the state championship game.

“It really is sort of a storybook ending. You couldn’t write it any better,” said CCSD Superintendent Casey Chambley.

The miracle season comes after a year of struggle between Valley and LaFayette, the county seat, over which city would get the new consolidated school. If the federal judge rules in the school district’s favor, this will be the Valley Rams last run.

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On Sunday, the Rams will play against Charles Henderson in the 5A championship game.

According to the AHSAA, there have only been 10 undefeated state championship teams. If the Valley Rams win on Saturday, they will join the list as undefeated state champions. 

“It’s been a great season and a historic run, and they’re a great team,” Chambley said.

The historic season has stitched the community together more tightly. According to Chambley, middle school athletes and students in the district loaded onto school buses to attend games. 

“That helps the kids see the culture and climate of what it takes to achieve this kind of thing,” he said. 

With so many people from the community showing up to support the team, Chambley said he has seen old friends and acquaintances he hasn’t seen in years.

“It’s almost like a reunion,” he said.

With the impending end of the orange and blue, the Rams have put in the hard work to leave a lasting legacy. According to the school district, the decision from the federal court is due to be released later this month, but there is no guarantee when the decision will be made.

“A lot of the players on the team, their parents went to Valley High School, and Coach Marshon went to Valley High School … It’s difficult on everyone knowing that the school where you were alumni, where you went to school, may close,” Chambley said. 

According to Chambley, the last time a team in Valley won a state championship was in 1970, the year that Rehobeth High and Valley High merged after the first desegregation order. Valley won the football state championship that year. 

One way for the citizens of Valley to look at it, Chambley said, is that it will be the lasting memory of victory for the Valley Rams. 

“If there was a time to go out, go out on top,” Chambley said.

But regardless of how the court rules for next year, he maintained that the team has brought the community together. Whether the schools merge next year or not, athletics seem able to transcend everything else. 

“Kids can teach us a lot sometimes … The court and the field are not political,” he said. 

As for the consolidation of school athletes, the combined talent may be a force to be reckoned with. 

“From an outside point of view, it would scare me to death that LaFayette and Valley were about to merge, and I was going to have to play them,” Chambley said.