JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Janie Citrano and Lindsay Miller can look up in the gymnasium and see the Bishop Kenny girls basketball history on the wall.
There’s plenty of it — just not much of it since 1992, the last year that the Bishop Kenny girls basketball team brought home a state championship.
But Citrano and Miller also have a unique perspective on those Crusaders teams on the wall.
Miller’s mother, Lori, played for the 1990-91 teams. Citrano’s aunt, Kara Leonard, played for Kenny on one its championship teams. That run from 1990-92 where the Crusaders won three consecutive titles is one of the best in First Coast girls basketball history.
As Kenny prepares for its first state semifinal game since that 1992 season on Wednesday against Bradenton Southeast in Lakeland, history has been a topic of conversation among the team.
“They’ve had us over to their house, shown us the footage from 26 years ago from going to Lakeland,” Kenny coach Charlsea Clark said of former Crusaders players like Miller and Leonard. “It’s just been a really fun ride for them.”
The current Crusaders hope to put their names on the wall, too. There’s already district and regional recognition on the way. They hope to add state accolades as well. Cheering Kenny on will be two former players who have particularly strong rooting interests outside of the normal pride for their alma mater.
“Oh my goodness she’s at every game,” Citrano said of her aunt. “It’s super cool just to be on the court playing and then look over see her and it’s like, ‘Man, I want that so bad for this team, and for her, because it’s super special, and Lindsay’s mom, too. Just looking up and seeing them here, it’s like, ‘You guys were the last people to do it. We want to be like you.’”
Miller said her mother has offered plenty of guidance throughout the season.
“Just to enjoy it, have fun with your teammates, play hard and not regret anything,” she said.
Former Bishop Kenny coach Todd Orlando, who coached the Crusaders to those three consecutive titles said the team’s success this season has brought back memories that have turned on the nostalgia.
Orlando, now the principal at Kenny, said that his wife put together a compilation of Kenny’s state championship seasons on DVD — media interviews, press clippings, game footage — and gave it to him as a gift. He brought it back out recently.
“I gave it to Lindsay about a month ago and said, ‘You need to surprise your mom,’” said Orlando, who retired following the 2002 season after 14 years of coaching to become the principal. “It’s so special. The fact that now this next generation of daughters or nieces are playing and they’re going to the state tournament, to be able to sit up in the stands and visit with their parents and grandparents, it’s just a big reunion. It’s a wonderful experience. I couldn’t be happier for Coach Clark.”