Saturday, October 26, 2002
This is the time of year most high school athletes and most high school sports fans live for.
It's fourth-and-goal, match point and the overtime shootout in other words, it's the postseason.
Over the years, I've watched more teams than I can count make a run at high school's most coveted trophy the state title. I've seen only a handful of individuals and a pair of teams actually reach the golden ring.
Thanks to a bunch of wrestlers from Soroco and the best girls soccer team I've ever seen in a Sailors uniform, I've witnessed and been able to write about the emotions that go along with winning it all.
But I've also seen the other side. The emotions that come to the surface from getting so close to a goal only to have it pulled away at the last minute are very powerful.
I've watched soccer, basketball and volleyball players reduced to tears while just a few feet away while the other team celebrates winning a state title.
While the winners share high-fives and hugs, losers normally look for support either from teammates or parents. I've interviewed players who couldn't find the words to describe how they were feeling. The truth was, they didn't need to use words because their emotions were easy to see on their faces.
The truth is, in most cases, the student-athletes think winning a state title is the most important thing in a given season. But those athletes would be wrong.
You see, the most important thing about trying to win a state title is the journey students go through en route to earning the title. I've never seen a team win the title without a lot of hard work and dedication. There is also a little luck and in most cases a whole lot of talent.
Athletes learn valuable life lessons along the journey.
They are taught that some times in sports, and in life, hard work and desire just aren't enough. However, they also learn that if you give it your all, you will look back without regret.
This week, several local athletes began the journey down the road to the state title. Most of them will walk away without a title, but hopefully they will appreciate the lessons that can be learned the real reason kids should play high school sports.