One week ago, the Venice High baseball team honored the Indians boys swim team by handing out their 2018 state champion rings before a game against Sarasota.
At most schools, it’s a historic accomplishment to win one state title, but here were the defending state champions in baseball handing out rings to another championship team on campus.
Two days later, the Venice boys tennis team completed its run through the playoffs by knocking off Doral Academy, 4-2, to win the 3A State Championship.
If you’ve lived here for a while, it’s pretty likely that you’ve gotten used to this sort of thing.
The school even acknowledged its athletic prowess last Fall when it ceremoniously named the street in front of the school “Champion’s Way.”
Roughly one year ago, the baseball team put a bow on a three state championship school-year (football, volleyball, baseball) at Venice — something that had never been done before at the school.
Fast forward back to the present, and Venice could very well end up repeating that feat if the baseball team defends its title in the coming weeks.
I started my position as sports editor here toward the end of May in 2018, so I missed out on the football and volleyball seasons, but the baseball team opened my eyes to the talent at Venice in my first week on the job.
Backed by otherworldly pitching and supreme defense, Venice mercy-ruled Doral Academy in the state semifinals before fighting off Pace High in an extra-innings thriller to win it all.
Though the football and volleyball teams didn’t quite make it back to the state finals — each team was eliminated in the state semifinals — it should say something in itself that not winning a state title felt like somewhat of a disappointment for these two teams.
After the football, volleyball and swim seasons ended, Venice was still in the title hunt. The girls soccer team reeled off one of the best seasons in school history — going undefeated through the regular season with their only loss coming on penalty kicks in the regional final.
Then, the Venice wrestling team sent three wrestlers — Lauren Stone, Jack Stone and Gage Tippman — to the state meet. In girls weightlifting, Arianna Kerr came back from states with a second place finish.
In the Spring season, tennis had its championship run, boys weightlifting won its first-ever district and regional titles and track and field sent a record 14 athletes to the state meet.
And, the year isn’t over yet, as the baseball team readies to make another run of its own.
Winning aside, there is an unusual amount of talent at Venice.
Consider that 12(!) seniors on the football team committed to play college football earlier this year. Six girls from the volleyball team received college offers. Six baseball players are committed to play at the Division-I level.
The list goes on and on.
For me, someone who graduated from Lemon Bay, this level of sports success is almost unheard of in high school.
The Venice community — through youth sports, monetary donations, and commitment to hard work — have created a truly special sports phenomenon.
It’s one you shouldn’t take for granted.