Kremmling " Participation provides its own set of rewards
August 19, 2008
Just as robins serve as a harbinger to spring, two-a-day practices signal the beginning of another school year.
In Granby as well as Kremmling practices started this week for those who participate in pom as well as for football and volleyball players. For West Grand High School, games will begin as early as this weekend. The football-playing Mustangs will square off against South Park in a football game scheduled for Saturday night.
The most visible aspect of athletics is the competition. The games provide enjoyment for players and fans alike. Since moving to Kremmling in 1989, I have had the joy of watching many, many games and contests. Those games have taken me to virtually every corner of Colorado. It has been fun to share those moments with other fans, particularly those who have children who were playing. The experiences gained during those ventures have provided me a lifetime of memories.
In my various roles within the community, I have often heard opposing arguments about the relative value of athletics. To some, it appears an inordinate amount of time, money and effort is expended on athletics. If you look only at the number of individuals who earn college scholarships or go on to professional careers, the cost may appear to be disproportionate.
I have always made the argument, however, that the most important thing about athletics has little to do with what the scoreboard reflects. In the short term, the outcome of a game seems to be the only measurement of value. I would have to agree that, initially, few things feel as good as a thrilling victory or as miserable as a heart- breaking loss. However, after numerous decades as a player, fan and coach, I have discovered if you base your value on wins or loses, you truly miss the most valuable lessons and the most endearing memories.
A coaching colleague of mine always tells me that sports don’t build character, they reveal character. What I have found to be most valuable for myself and for those who I have coached at various stages of their lives, is the lessons learned when a particular character trait is revealed. Those times are often referred to as coachable moments.
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It is well documented that those who are involved in extra-curricular activities have more success in the classroom than their classmates. If you noticed, I said activities, not athletics. The relationship between success in the classroom and involvement in a structured activity is across the board and includes music, drama, athletics and clubs.
It isn’t necessarily a cause and effect relationship, but I believe there is a connection. The discipline required to participate in an activity seems to translate into the type of discipline that is required to create success in other facets of life.
My high school basketball coach was one of the most influential individuals in my life. For several years, I hearkened back to the lessons I learned while under his charge. As I aged a few years, I came to realize those lessons were the same ones that my parents had been trying to hammer into my thick skull. Coming from another source those lessons just sounded different. Looking back, I realize those lessons were so valuable because they reinforced what I knew inherently to be correct.
The beauty of small schools like West Grand is that anybody who wishes to participate has that opportunity. My only experience in life is with small schools, but I am told from some of my “big-school” friends that it is a different world in bigger schools. In a small school setting, we come to take most of the activities for granted.
In a larger school, there are tryouts and cuts. One of my friends found out he didn’t make the basketball team by reading a list on the coaches door. At West Grand, I don’t know of a single instance when a student was turned down, as long as they followed the guidelines of the program. Participation in these extra-curricular programs, one of my colleagues tells me, should be viewed as a privilege and not a right.
It is always a joy for me to see kids participating in something that required some sort of sacrifice. The next time you see a child playing an instrument, setting a volleyball, driving a robot, participating in the county fair or volunteering at the fire department, remember those who helped to make that happen and remember that you are part of a community that provides that opportunity.
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