Two Sports, Two Morgans, One Trimble

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Glouster, Ohio, comprised of almost 2,000 people according to the 2010 census, takes pride in one thing: Trimble High School athletics. From its hard-hitting and scrappy football team to its successful boys and girls’ basketball teams. The people of Glouster care for their Tomcat athletics.

Two girls from Trimble High School are taking their Trimble pride to a whole new level.

Morgan Murphy and Morgan Azbell, seniors at Trimble High School, play on the varsity girls basketball team while also cheering on the cheerleading team. Murphy and Azbell have known each other since they were babies.

“We’ve know each other since we were old enough to walk and talk because our parents were always close,” Azbell said. “We’ve had our problems like most friends do, but we’ve matured and we’ve grown, and I think playing sports really helped that since we are around each other a lot because that’s all we know how to do.”

It’s a snowy February day and it’s the Tomcats’ final practice before their first post-season tournament game against Green High School. Before practice, Azbell and Murphy are goofing off together with some of their teammates. Graduation is coming up and Azbell and Murphy start

sharing some memories from their long history together. They recall rocking out to ‘Hollaback Girl’ by Gwen Stefani to motivate themselves before a game or cheer competition.

“Oh, I have one!” Azbell said excitedly looking at Murphy.

“Wait, what story? What are you about to tell him?” Murphy inquired anxiously.

Azbell then mumbled a memory in her best friend’s ear while trying to fight back laughter.

“Don’t say that! If you say that, I am going to kill you!” Murphy erupted.

Then Murphy, maybe to exact some little revenge on her best friend for almost telling too embarrassing of a story, began telling a story of how Azbell embarrassed herself on the court last season.

“She got mad at me last year because I was laughing at her,” Murphy began. “We had a game at Federal Hocking and she shot at the wrong basket. She got really mad at me, but it was really funny. We laugh about it now, but she wasn’t laughing at it when it happened.”

As soon as she had finished her story and before Azbell could chime in with a rebuttal of her own, first-year head coach Joe Richards blows his whistle to begin practice. Richards has relied on both Murphy and Azbell, as well as Nikki Kish, the only seniors on the team, this season and he isn’t happy with the team’s focus tonight.

“Come on, guys!” coach Richards yells, blowing his whistle to deafening levels. “We have a big game tomorrow, cut the crap!”

Richards finished the regular season with 10-11 overall record and 7-8 record in conference play in his first year, the same record the team had under their previous coach last season. The night before his first postseason game, coach Richards is relying on Murphy and Azbell to lead this team.

“They are our senior leaders and they have done a really good job for us this year,” he said. “If coach or I have something to say, we tell them first then they relay the message to the rest of the team. They have been three great senior leaders and we are going to miss them.”

During practice, Azbell and Murphy are separated, but their focus and hard work sets a precedent for the underclassmen to follow, something that girls pride themselves on as seniors.

“The coaches really expect a lot of us seniors than the other players,” Azbell began to explain. “That’s what is expected but they don’t ask for more than we can give.”

After practice, while the rest of the team heads back to the locker room, the two stay and show their cheerleading routines.

They both laugh, but oozed confidence in their cheering abilities and were willing to give some examples.

“I haven’t done one of these in along time though,” Azbell said with a nervous tremor in her voice.

“She really hasn’t, so this is going to be interesting,” Murphy joked.

“You go first; you give me confidence. I’m relying on you to give me some confidence.”

“Should I do two or one?”

“Woah, do one! Don’t make me look bad!” Azbell yelled.

Right on cue, Murphy burst into a sprint and then into a roundoff backhandspring. After giving a small round of applause, Azbell does one of her own, showing little rust.

After some cheers and more flips, the girls are back into their natural state—goofing off and having fun with one another. But in reality, graduation is a few months away, where they will go their separate ways.

“It will be different for sure,” Murphy said, lamenting the thought that she will have to be without her best friend. “I hope we can keep in touch and hang out. It’s going to be sad.”

When graduation does come for all of the seniors at Trimble High School, not only will the school lose some great kids, but so will the town of Glouster. Some of the athletes that have been a shining light for the town for the past 4 years will up and leave to go away for school, while some of them will go straight into the workforce or into other paths of life. Needless to say, when Morgan Azbell and Morgan Murphy graduate, some of the cheerful life that is Tomcat athletics will be gone too.