CLEARMONT — There are seven different ways to pronounce the letter “A” in the English language. But for the town of Arvada, only one pronunciation is correct, and the Arvada-Clearmont High School volleyball team has learned that many don’t know how to accurately articulate its school’s or town’s name.
In the word Arvada, the most common mistake revolves around the second “A.” To correctly pronounce the town, the second “A” should sound like it does in the word “stable.” The Lady Panthers have found that many from around the state think the second A should sound like it does in the word “father.”
“When we go places and the officials say, ‘Arvada, you’re the guest team,’ my three captains kind of look at me and giggle a little bit,” AC head coach Sarah Walker said. “All three are locals that have grown up here, and the fact that they can’t say it, it’s kind of a running joke.”
But once the laughing ceases, the mispronunciation swiftly transition into a motivational rallying point.
“I tell them, ‘Well, make sure they know who you are. Make them want to figure out how to say Arvada-Clearmont,’” Walker said. “It’s kind of an in-between. It has definitely been used as motivation, but we can all kind of laugh about it too.”
Hopefully the officials and announcers in Casper do their homework prior to Thursday, because the Lady Panthers will look to make a name for themselves at the state tournament. AC qualified for state for the first time since 2011, placing fourth at the regional tournament. The team will battle No. 1-seeded Cokeville Thursday.
Before the 2018 season started, the Lady Panthers divided the year into two parts. The end of the regional tournament marked the end of season one, and AC accomplished what it set out to do.
And it wasn’t easy.
The Lady Panthers needed a win Saturday morning in an elimination game against a team it hadn’t beaten all season — Upton. The Lady Bobcats had downed AC in both regular-season matchups, and that stood as the largest culprit as to why the Lady Panthers finished second in the conference instead of first.
But with the season on the line, AC rose up and swept Upton to punch its ticket to Casper.
“That was a really good gauge for us to see where we were at,” Walker said. “We tried to really hammer that home with the girls. ‘You’re prepared for this because of the last two times you’ve played them. You’ve shown improvement and you’ve shown growth, and this is your opportunity to prove that, and to make a statement about the team we now are now, and not the team we were a month ago.’”
The second season for AC begins Thursday. The Lady Panthers have set two primary goals for the state tournament. They want to control their side of the court — physically by way of executing the fundamentals and mentally by not dwelling on mistakes and being a good teammate to one another.
AC’s other goal is to make a statement about the program it has become, even if it’s one most people mispronounce.