Rangers' friendly companion brings good luck

Photos by Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald
Forest Park boys basketball players Braydon Voegerl, left, and Sam Englert fed Scar, the team’s fish, before practice at the school in Ferdinand on Thursday afternoon. Scar lives on a shelf in the boys’ locker room, surrounded by encouraging fish-themed signs. Voegerl, Simon Jacob and Reid Steffe purchased the fish after watching the team’s sectional draw.

By HENDRIX MAGLEY
hmagley@dcherald.com

During the postseason, teams will do whatever they can to make sure they have a little luck on their side.

In the National Hockey League it’s common to see players grow out their “playoff beards” while baseball players often put their baseball caps inside out or in some other unconventional manner in hopes for some late-game magic in crucial games.

But for the Forest Park boys basketball team? Well, their good luck charm has been swimming around in the Ranger locker room since Sunday, Feb. 18 — the day of the Indiana High School Athletic Association sectional draw.

“I get a text that night and the boys ask me if we can get a fish for the locker room,” Ranger head coach Jeff Litherland said with a laugh. “I told them, ‘I don’t care what you do, just go out and win the sectional.”

The legend of Scar was born — a goldfish that Braydon Voegerl, Reid Steffe and Simon Jacob picked up at Walmart that Sunday evening after the Rangers watched the sectional draw together as a team.

The team had floated the idea around a few days prior but it came to life that Sunday night when Voegerl decided to go to Walmart in Jasper to buy a headset so he could play video games with friends, more specifically the popular game Fortnite.

After picking up a headset, the three Rangers walked by the fish tanks and it was there they decided this idea would come to fruition after all.

“We stumbled across the fish aisle and we decided to pick the one with the longest tail, and he just looked the least beat up,” Jacob said with a laugh. “He’s just been there for support, it’s almost like he’s here watching over us.”

While he’s technically a goldfish, Scar looks a little more yellow in color and can grow in size to about 16 inches — if that happens Jacob says the team will definitely have to get a new tank for him.

When it comes to his name, Scar might not seem like a typical name for a fish but when Jacob tells the story of how the decision was made it all makes sense.

“Well, when we were discussing possible names, the first thing that came to mind is Fortnite,” Jacob said. “And the best gun on the video game is called the ‘SCAR’ so we figured that’d be as good of a name as any.”

Scar has made several appearances at the Rangers’ pep rallies and has become sort of a legend around the halls of Forest Park.

Scar has his own little setup in the Ranger locker room; his tank is full of pebbles and his own personal plant.

Since purchasing the fish, the Rangers have yet to lose in the postseason and have had several crazy finishes (Collin Hochgesang’s buzzer-beater over South Spencer, Noah Fleck’s 3-point shot at the buzzer to clinch the sectional championship over North Posey) en route to their first semistate appearance since 2011.

“I try to always remind the guys to feed him and keep his water clean because maybe he is our good luck charm because we were fortunate to get out of that sectional,” Litherland said, referring to Scar.

“That’s how we won on those buzzer-beaters,” Jacob said with a laugh. “Scar knew.”

Scar has become a hot topic around the halls of Forest Park High School and the city of Ferdinand as a whole. As you leave Ferdinand heading toward Jasper, you’ll see a big “Win Semistate” sign that includes — you guessed it — a drawing of a fish on it. Scar’s also been requested to appear at both of the Forest Park pep rallies after winning both the sectional and the regional championships.

Litherland is happy that his team has something to help relieve themselves of the stress of the big-time games they’ve been playing in this postseason.

“The guys are having fun with it and it helps to keep their minds off of these high-pressure situations,” Litherland said. “They’re just kids being kids, even on the weekends they’ve had someone come in and feed him, so I think it shows these guys know how to deal with responsibility.”

Every player has done their share of work to ensure that Scar continues to enjoy life in Buechler Arena. Sam Englert drops a few flakes in his tank after getting some shots up at practice, while Steffe even took the entire tank home last week after someone noticed that Scar’s water was looking a little dirty.

Basically the rule of thumb goes like this: If you see Scar hungry or looking displeased, you better do what you can to help him out.

“Whoever is in the locker room at the time better make sure he’s fed,” Englert said.. “Even on Sundays, we’ve had the coaches help out and make sure he’s doing alright since no one else is here.”

If the Rangers (24-4) are victorious over Indianapolis Scecina (19-9) in Saturday’s semistate at the Hatchet House in Washington, there will be a serious question to consider next week: Will Scar make the 21⁄2-hour bus ride north to Indianapolis with the Rangers?

“I honestly hadn’t even thought about that,” Voegerl said. “It might not be a great idea to take him on a bus ride, but he’s been good luck, so we’ve got to do it.”

“If we take the charter bus, he’ll get to have a comfy ride and relax,” Jacob said. “I’ll probably even put a cover on him so he can get a nap in on the ride too.”

The Rangers have dealt with some highs and lows throughout this basketball season, but during the most stressful time of the year, a fish has helped the teammates strengthen their bonds with one another and it reminds them to take it easy once in awhile.

“Whenever things aren’t going good, we just look over to (Scar) and he’s just there to help,” Jacob said.

Englert added, “If you’re having a hard day at practice or just a tough day, just go take a look at Scar. He’ll lighten your day up.”




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