By Calli Newberry
I’ve got some more good sports news this week! This time it’s not a numbered list, but just a couple of stories to share about some of the great athletes we have in our area.
I think championship settings can bring out the best and worst in athletes. Between the high intensity and desire to win, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and overreact.
Sometimes it causes athletes to play to a higher level than ever before, and other times it causes them to crack under pressure. It can also show true character, whether it’s the humility one shows in winning or the composure one maintains in losing.
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On Tuesday night at the final BWAC cross country jamboree, I stood near the finish line, watching runners stride to the end. Some looked strong, others did not, but either way it’s inspiring to watch athletes give all they have to their sport and teams. But it was what happened after the finish line that made me smile even more.
I watched Croswell-Lexington senior Ethan McCombs turn around only to see a North Branch athlete sitting on the ground in exhaustion. The Broncos had beaten the Pioneers by quite a bit, but McCombs didn’t let that stop him from helping his fellow runner.
He helped him up and asked him if he was OK, then asked if he wanted help getting over to the fence. He got him to his feet and back on his way. Even in losing, he showed genuine kindness and concern.
The next night I was in Imlay City to watch the Spartans take on the Richmond Blue Devils in the District Final match. That game was pretty intense — a lot of shoving, falling, and a few choice words, but I think that’s just how soccer is.
The Spartans had just won and the players were running over to where all of the fans and family were sitting, but junior Edwin Galindo trailed behind his team. As he made his way there, he made a pit stop.
He stopped to shake hands with the Richmond goalkeeper and then trotted over to where two other Blue Devil players stood and shook their hands too. The rest of his team followed suit.
Of course it feels great to win, but with Galindo’s humble example, the Spartans showed respect to the other team in the midst of their celebrations. And the Richmond players soon reciprocated that when both teams lined up for the final “good game” high fives as they all wished Imlay City good luck at the regional tournament.
We’ve got some really talented athletes in our area and fortunately, we’ve got some really nice ones too. It’s easy, and often more exciting, to focus on stats and scores and who’s playing where after high school, but I think it’s even more important to focus on the character these athletes are developing along the way.
I think this is also a great lesson for athletes, and everyone else too, I suppose: You never know who is watching, and who might even have a camera.
The way we act in public says a lot more about who we are than the words we say and the posts we make on social media. We all want to have a good reputation and we all want to be respected, but just like a championship in sports, you have to earn it.
Be encouraged to know that we’ve got some great kids in our community and celebrate their successes along with them, both in and out of competition.