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For two mothers, a Parents' Night to remember in Flatonia

Oct. 5, 2011 at 5:05 a.m.


FLATONIA - Amid the hoopla of Parents' Night, a high-stakes volleyball match and an intense athletic rivalry between Shiner and Flatonia, one story linked the present to the Lady Bulldogs storied past.

From opposite vantage points two members of the Lady Bulldogs 1985 state championship volleyball team watched their daughters take the court - against each other for the first time.

Alex Bruns and Lauren Oden are the daughters of the former Shawna Mica and CeCe Garbade.

Bruns, like her mother, is a senior setter for Flatonia. Oden is a junior right side hitter for the Comanches. Born just 10 days apart, the daughters developed a friendship that was more than an extension of the camaraderie and closeness their mothers shared 26 years ago.

Flatonia won the pulsating match 25-17, 18-25, 26-24, 25-18. The Lady Bulldogs (26-8, 4-0) staved off four game points in the critical third game to snatch the momentum and eventually the match.

"Any time we get together on a non-football night it's going to be a war," said Flatonia coach Rodney Stryk. "By far, that was the best we played all year. Shiner matched us point for point."

Alex said her team won the match due to their ability to pass the ball and handle the Shiner serves so they could run their offense.

Bruns added the next challenge for her team is to beat the Lady Comanches and the rest of their district foes away from the cozy confines of their home gym. Oden stated she too will be very interested in how the rematch in Shiner will wind up.

"Any time Shiner and Flatonia get together it's going to be a barnburner," said Shiner volleyball coach Michell Winkenwerder. "In games like this you have to learn to control those emotions and keep things in check"

"We lost composure, at the wrong times. We got down on ourselves, at the wrong time. We missed serves, at the wrong time. When you do that many things at the wrong time good teams like Flatonia will take advantage."

LaNeshia Hunt led Shiner with 18 kills. Kristin Schacherl and Amanise Coleman had seven kills, while Oden added six kills. Flatonia was led by its emotional outside hitter Leanna Dunk and Chandler Fike.

Moments after Flatonia recorded the final side out of the night, past and present stood adjacent to the net, all smiles since friendships could once again be resumed. CeCe was on the left, Lauren then Alex were in the middle while Shawna was on the right.

"CeCe is probably the one I stay in the closest contact with, even though she and her husband have coached all over Texas," Shawna said. "We would send Christmas cards and visit each other when she would see her parents. She and Brad are the godparents of our oldest daughter."

Both women married coaches, but remained close for the past two decades. Mica married Shawn Bruns in 1990 and has remained in Flatonia since that time.

Garbade married Brad Oden and began a journey that took the family to Schulenburg, Pittsburg, Alvarado, a second Schulenburg stint and Tomball. Last year the family returned to Shiner when Brad was named the principal at the high school.

When the Oden's returned to Schulenburg in 2002, Lauren and Alex developed a friendship through sports. The two were on the same All-Star softball team and have remained close since. With a smile Alex recalls New Year's Even 2004 when the two just sat up for hours talking about things that would only be interesting to 10 year old girls.

"I want our girls to play well and give 110 percent and leave it on the court, no matter, who wins," said Oden, who is now an assistant to Winkenwerder, prior to the match. "I want them to come out and play well, as a coach, and as a Flatonia graduate. Sports played such a big factor in my life that you want everyone to do well."

Alex and Lauren would have squared off last year, but Oden tore her ACL prior to district play. She recovered in time to be a member of the Comanches state championship softball team, but spent the summer working with her dad to prepare for volleyball - and perhaps match her mother's accomplishment of winning a state championship.

Though she giggled at the thought have having to play against her good friend, and receiving serves from Bruns, Oden now appreciates the sacrifices of the sport more these days.

"I have made a lot of progress and I feel it's stronger than my other knee," Lauren said. "Coming out to play volleyball, I have a different perspective for the game because I did sit on the bench and I did see everything that goes on. I have more fire for the game."

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