Chipola Sports Dynasty
MARIANNA - Just before Chipola College baseball coach Jeff Johnson left
home for the recent state juco tournament, his wife reminded him that
the onus was on his team to make it a clean sweep. The Indians responded
with an undefeated performance to give Chipola an unprecedented fourth
state championship in one year by a Panhandle Conference team.
Johnson downplayed his first state title in 11 seasons, instead
crediting support from Chipola's other coaches, administration and his
you don't have all of the three, you're not going to win," he said. "We
have a great group of people here and they have expectations. If you
don't have people who want to win, most of the times you don't win."
Athletic Director Dale O'Daniel said there might not be a better way to
describe Chipola's accomplishments than to call it a dynasty. Four
championships in one season has indeed turned little Marianna into a
On Saturday night, the town got something else to cheer for when its
softball team captured the national title. Such a feat has been achieved
at Chipola just once, and that was back in the 1960s when the school had
a golf program that won the school's first championship.
is Marianna's sports franchise. The town is especially passionate in its
support of both basketball programs, always showing up in large numbers
to see their teams that carry a domineering swagger on its homecourt.
"That has trickled down to all the other athletes and other programs,"
said Greg Heiar, men's basketball coach. "That's what we instill from
day one: that refuse-to-lose mentality. You've got to be in it for one
reason and that's to refuse to lose. That equals swagger. It's
confidence, and that's what it's all about."
During the past five years, the school has invested more than $1 million
to renovate its baseball stadium, softball field and the basketball
arena. The dividends are obvious.
In addition to baseball, Chipola won state titles to represent the
conference at the national championship in men's and women's basketball
"You can't buy that, you can't sell that, but you can market that,"
O'Daniel said, pointing to other success stories out of Chipola.
Former Indians are making their mark in the major league this season.
Russell Martin is a catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Jose Bautista
is playing third base for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Adam Loewen pitches
for the Baltimore Orioles.
Several other former Chipola players have gone on to excel in all four
sports at either the college or pro levels. Just this past basketball
season, Mario Boggan helped Oklahoma State to the postseason, while
Stefhon Hannah played at Missouri and Michael Taylor at Iowa State.
Chipola's success in basketball clearly has been the benchmark. For the
past three seasons, the women's team has advanced to the national
championship tournament. Coach David Lane's team has gotten there
without winning a conference title, but this year is sharing in
Chipola's greatest achievement.
"You could talk about dynasty because we have that tradition at
Chipola," he said. "It's sort of the lightning-in-the-bottle type of
deal where for one year everything kind of came together. There are so
many things that could happen to prevent you from getting to the
national championship; you've got to be lucky. You've to have the
breaks. For that to happen for four programs it's pretty rare."
Fans like Aaron Peterson, who seldom misses a road game, have been
savoring the quadruple championships.
"I love these teams," he said. "I love this college. They're a
close-knit family and (fans) support everything.
"Nobody loves to lose. We don't expect anything but a win."