McKenzie Robinson and other members of the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team are heroes for a lot of younger girls in Adams and Cheshire. It’s how
McKenzie Robinson and other members of the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team are heroes for a lot of younger girls in Adams and Cheshire. It’s how coach Ron Wojcik would like to see the program there solidify its foundation. (Gillian Jones / New England Newspapers)

CHESHIRE -- There's an anonymous quote that circulates in sports circles that goes a long way to sum up success on the football field, the hockey rink or the hardwood.

"It's not about the x's and o's, but the Jimmies and the Joes," the quote reads. It could also refer to the "Jessies and the Joannes."

That's the long range mindset of Ron Wojcik, the coach of the Hoosac Valley girls basketball team.

Wojcik, in his third year at Hoosac, led the Hurricanes to a Western Massachusetts Division II championship last year. It was the first such title in the school's history. But if Wojcik has his way, it will be the first of many.

"I think it plays a huge role," in building a program, Wojcik said. "A lot of the younger kids, frankly, were at a lot of those [tournament] games down at the Cage - the Mahar game and the Drury game. A lot of those kids in those stands see that."

Hoosac player Jenn Gale said she can see and feel the support for the current crop of Hurricanes building at the lower levels.

"You can definitely see the younger girls are looking up to us," said Gale. "A group of [third and fourth graders] were here and they saw our [Western Mass. championship] display. They said ‘Oh, I can't wait until I get to this level.' "

The measuring stick for Hoosac, and for any team trying to build a program is Lee. The Wildcats have won seven state championships and the walls in the gym there are covered in Western Mass. Division III hoop banners. There's no magic formula in the high school that turns the girls there into basketball players. It all starts when the kids are young.

"Absolutely," said Wojcik. "Lee and look at some of those Monument Mountain teams over the years with the [youth league] Golden Knights program they run down there. Your success is only going to last as long and be as good as your youth levels are. Having the numbers of girls that are interested in playing because they see the success."

Gale is one of the Hoosac captains and said it was family that first drew her to the Hoosac gym to watch the girls basketball team.

"I personally used to watch because I had a cousin who playe on the team. It was fun," she said.

That trip to the DCU Center in Worcester

Nobody knows about building a basketball program at Hoosac than boys coach Bill Robinson. Robinson, who is in his 23rd season has taken the Hurricanes to a pair of state championship games. Since Robinson took over at Hoosac, his teams have been regulars in a Western Mass. Division II semifinal round.

"It's been a great fit as far as I'm concerned," said Robinson, who coaches a lot of these girls in the off-season, including his daughter McKenzie. "He's continued to coach them like athletes.

"I hate when people say that they're girls. They know the rules going in. You come to play, you're prepared and let's go."

Coaches like Wojcik enjoy winning a championship, even if it came a year ahead of what he had thought it might.

High school sports in Massachusetts, and undoubtedly in other states, are littered with one-and-done championship teams. Some schools get one stellar crop of young athletes, win a title or two, and then fade away.

"You watch Lee over the years," said Robinson, "it wasn't a game - it was business."

Gale said it was Robinson who planted the seeds they are now harveting.

"The kids are definitely getting better. A lot of it comes from the youth leagues and Bill Robinson," said Gale. "We would never have gotten where we are without Coach Robinson. He's very invested in the program."

The Hoosac girls coach said, however, that the true key to success for him is to make certain that what the Hurricanes did in March, 2013, was not a flash in the pan.

The success comes not only from the current crop of athletes who are wearing Hoosac's uniform, but it's the fact that these Hurricanes go back and help out the kids.

"A lot of these kids go back on Saturdays and work the scorer's table and do different things," he said. "One of my goals is to get more involved with the youth coaches.

"I've just gotten my feet wet as far as Adams goes. I work with the travel [team coaches], but I haven't worked a lot with the PAL leagues and that. I think the community has been a big support. I think success breeds success."