ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) If it was not for one man, Rock Valley softball might not be in position to win its record sixth straight national championship. The players say it was his motivation that rallied the Golden Eagles in their regional and they have not looked back.
"We had nerves and he just came out of nowhere and just got us all excited and fueled and we were just ready to go after that," said sophomore Courtney Fernette.
A regional loss put RVC on the brink of elimination, but it was the demeanor of one person that empowered the five-time defending national champions to victory.
The jealousy is real for head coach Darin Monroe as he watches the true unsung hero of the 2019 season: Big Boy Paul.
Since joining the team, RVC is a perfect 3-0 and on its way to history.
"Big Boy Paul is like the spark that we needed," said freshman Megen Johnson.
"That atmosphere of playing the game allows him to make serious situations more fun and it's important for our team to enjoy that," said sophomore Madi Hecox.
It's not known as to when the fun ever disappeared for the Golden Eagles, but with the dugout rides, the pets and the general silliness, it is clear that the fun has returned.
"No one even knew he was just going to come out of nowhere and when he did, I think we were just like "We got this. We're okay,"" Fernette said.
Against his better judgement, Monroe has even stepped aside to allow Big Boy Paul to take over RVC, and one more thing.
"Darin, remind us, what's your middle name?" "Paul," Monroe replied.
"Just to allow him to be in the dugout each game and allow him to have a role on our team as if he was a player, I think is important as he fits in with us," Hecox said.
RVC opens up the national tournament Thursday with Suffolk County at 10 a.m.