Steamboat Springs Only a few Routt County athletes will ever get to experience winning a state title. That is a fact of life.
But I can't imagine winning a title is the only reason students at our high schools come to the competitive playing field every year.
Success stories can be found in just about every sport at the high school level. Some teams will win state titles. Others will be lucky if they break the .500 mark during the course of the year.
Despite a few widely publicized exceptions, high school is still the place where athletes learn the value of developing friendships, discover the wealth gained from just playing a game and get a chance to cash in on the lessons that some of the area's best coaches have to teach. High school isn't the place to become multimillionaires.
Most former athletes will tell you that the lessons they learned from coaches such as Kelly Meek and Mark Drake remain long after the thrill of winning has faded.
I'm sorry to say it, but 10 years from now nobody will remember the record of the 2003 Sailors boys basketball team or where the girls lacrosse team finished in the Western Slope League. I might not even be able to remember that by the end of the summer.
By next December, I will be hard-pressed to find the record of the 2003 boys basketball team on our computer system, and there is no way I will be able to tell you which team won the girls volleyball title at the Denver Coliseum off the top of my head.
But you can bet that, on the day he graduates from college, Ryan Marsden will recall playing ball with Preston Stanfill, and that sprinter Tyler Johnson will remember goofing around with Ryan Proffitt at the Sailors track practice.
Sure, winning is important to all of these athletes. But it's the journey that most of them are really seeking -- not the plastic and wood of a state trophy.
That journey came to an end for many of the athletes at the Steamboat Springs High School this week. Most will end their high school experience never knowing what it's like to win a state title. (My advice to them is simple -- don't fret, you're not alone.)
But most of the student athletes graduating this year will have completed a journey that began four years ago, when they came to the high school as freshmen eager to play the game.
Some of them became stars on the field, court or track. Others simply played the game and reached their personal goals.
Either way, they will be winners when they walk onto the stage to collect their high school diplomas.
These athletes proved to me that playing sports is about a lot more than just winning and losing. It's making that journey and reaching those goals that makes them all winners.