By RANDY GONZALES
VICTORIA -- The Victoria High School girls' basketball team is headed to the state tournament Thursday morning.
Coach Anne Dinkel knows her squad has had plenty of help along the way.
"I've got parent support, my administrators' support, the community's pretty excited," Dinkel said. "School's shut down Thursday; it'll be a great week."
Victoria (14-9) is the No. 7 seed at this week's Class 1A Division I state basketball tournament at White Auditorium in Emporia. The Knights will play No. 2 seed Blue Rapids-Valley Heights (22-1) in a 3 p.m. contest.
Victoria High School Principal and Athletic Director Stuart Moeckel said classes at the high school have been canceled.
That's because several players on the team also have parents who are teachers in the school system. He said the decision was made to call off classes rather than try to find substitutes. There will be transportation for the team and cheerleaders, but there will not be a pep bus, Moeckel said.
"I know our families will be there, backing the girls," Dinkel said. "The high school (students) will get there, one way or the other. I think we'll have some good support."
A pep rally has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. today in the school gym, and a send-off for the team is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday in the school parking lot.
Colleen Kuhn, president of Victoria Interested Parents, an organization geared toward non-alcohol and drug-free activities for students, said they likely will provide the team meal money and snacks.
"They support us on activities like this, whether it's sports or music or academics," Dinkel said of VIP. "They're there for us."
Desiree Rome, president of the school's booster club, Knights of the Roundtable, said they also help the athletic teams.
During football and basketball, the booster club has a fundraiser meal at home games. Players, coaches and cheerleaders for both teams eat free. The booster club also will help pay for coaches' supplies.
The booster club also will help out while Dinkel's team is at state this week.
"We will pay for one of their meals on their trip," Rome said. "We'll pay for advertising during the radio broadcast."
In small towns, kids involved in activities need a helping hand.
"The schools are kind of short on money," Rome said.
Dinkel appreciates the assistance.
"VIP and booster club seems like they always step up and help, too," Dinkel said.