Heidelberg volleyball coach Jason Miller has been watching poker on television lately.
When he found out Monday that his program had received an at-large bid to the Division III regionals - the sixth straight year the Student Princes have qualified - he used a poker analogy with is players.
"I told them we had a chip and a chair," the Hopewell-Loudon graduate said Monday night. "I don't think they really got it."
Assuming they weren't the only ones, this is what the coach meant:
HU will play in Grand Rapids, Mich. Thursday against No. 2 Calvin. Heidelberg played Calvin once this season and was swept.
But Miller reminded his team that as long as it was alive and in the tournament, it has a chance for big things.
So, like a long faced gambler in Las Vegas, HU has, in fact, "a chip and a chair."
In other words, it has an opportunity.
And it's an opportunity Miller and his players weren't sure they would have a few days ago.
The Student Princes fell in the Ohio Athletic Conference tournament semifinals to Columbian graduate Maya Brown and Mount Union. It was the second loss to the top-seeded Purple Raiders in eight days, and it dropped Heidelberg to 19-14.
From a league standpoint, history was against the 'Berg being selected. The Raiders, Ohio Northern and Otterbein all placed ahead of HU in the OAC standings (and, in fact, Marietta placed ahead on a tiebreaker despite having the same record as Heidelberg).
Miller said he was well aware that four OAC teams had never made the regionals in one season. As a result, the players went into the game with Mount Union with a do-or-die attitude.
"That loss was pretty devastating," Miller said.
So when Heidelberg got the news that its season would go on, the players reacted the way one would expect.
"We are excited," Miller said. "The girls at practice today were kind of giddy. Getting off the bus Saturday they thought their season was over."
And now, Heidelberg has to prepare for Thursday's 8 p.m. match with Calvin.
"When we played them earlier in the year, the first game was close, the second one was real close, in the third game they handled us pretty well," Miller said. "If we go in and control the ball off serve and stay in system, we can play with them."
The coach said he feels good for his three seniors: Jacki Street, Rachel Ferguson and Marian Bevington.
"My seniors, and upperclassmen were all pretty giddy," Miller said. "The goals are still achievable."