OSHKOSH - The Oshkosh North girls basketball team is off to a start like it hasn't experienced in quite a while, winning each of its first five games.
In previous years, winning and the Spartans were rarely mentioned in the same sentence but things have changed. North has definitely shed its losing ways.
"We're undefeated, we're a whole new team," said junior Brooklyn Schamens. "We definitely believe in each other this year."
"We are so excited," senior Nicole Herkert said. "It's so different to start out winning all of our games. We know we have a lot of work to do to go further this season, because our goal isn't to just win the first five games. We want to continue this."
North has opened with five straight wins and may be a contender in the Fox Valley Association. This is just two years removed from when the Spartans finally broke a 64-game losing streak.
The five wins are a good start, but Schamens said this team has the ability to go a long way.
"We really stay positive with each other, we expect a lot of each other," Schamens said. "I think this year we have what it takes to take it to state."
That would be quite a story for a program that has taken a back seat to the likes of Oshkosh West and Oshkosh Lourdes, which each made the state tournament last season. West and Lourdes have been good programs for quite a while and North has been lost in the background.
North started winning on a more consistent basis last season when it was 8-15 and coach Rachel Bierzter thinks the losing streak is a reason North is winning now.
"When you have those kinds of moments, you gather up those memories and you remember how painful it felt at times, but yet it's a part of the learning curve and part of who we are," Biertzer said. "I think a lot of times it was a character builder.
"It has not defined us, but it's helped shape us to the people we are today and made us stronger than we would've have been if we wouldn't have experienced this."
Biertzer became North's coach during the losing streak and like her players, she's enjoying the winning.
"These kids here have bought into what we're selling as a staff," she said. "They're just such a good bunch, so obviously going into a locker room after a win is more pleasurable than a loss. But again, those losses helped shape who we are, not define us; just help shape who we are. You enjoy the sweet moments but you realize that the whole thing is a journey and we just keep moving forward."
Herkert and Schamens remember the days when North was losing every game. It wasn't much fun to watch.
"It was tough to watch them; you look up to the teams ahead of you," Herkert said. "It was tough to come and watch all the teams lose. Our teams in grade school would lose, 60-3, and it sounds like it would be bad but it was a good thing for us because we found out how much we hated to lose.
"We didn't want to be the team that loses all the time. It helped motivate us in our practices."
Added Schamens: "It was tough. We look up to the older team. It's hard to watch people we look up to and them struggling a little bit."
Those kids watching this year's team won't have those memories when they play for North. The Spartans are finally winning again.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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