Our boys have played sports for several years now. When our oldest was in high school he was more involved in band and theater than sports, although he did play Varsity tennis as a Freshman. Our middle son has played on the HS Varsity tennis team since freshman year, and our youngest has been a varsity soccer player since freshman year. He also runs track in the spring and earned a varsity letter in that, too. As a parent, I have learned that sports can be an enriching experience. They have done well for our family not being overly involved in the sports scene when they were younger.
But, something really cool happened this year! This past spring, the Varsity Boys’ Tennis team won our conference title! It was the first time in school history the tennis team won this title! This group of boys worked hard at resisting the role of underdog last year! They began to win against teams that formerly beat them. Coaches, parents, and other tennis teams were surprised! Going to a match took on a different air when the boys were winning their matches and the team had a winning record! What fantastic thing to watch! My then HS junior, played at first doubles the entire season, and even got a chance to go to sectionals with his partner! Coincidentally, their coach, who had previously been away for a year, came back last spring. He had to fight hard to be able to be renamed to the position! This coach is visibly passionate about tennis and is a strong motivator for the boys to do their best, as well as be good people (like involving them in a local food drive.) I am sure after coming off a lackluster season the year before, setting a school record by winning the conference title will be well-remembered for a long time, not only by the team but by him as well!
Now this fall, my youngest son finds himself on a conference winning soccer team! Again, this set a school record! Never before has the soccer team won our local conference! Listening to the local news reporters incredulous introductions to game results, you know the wins have been unusual and unexpected events for our team. Like the tennis team, our soccer team did not have a history of winning games consistently. Like the tennis team, this year brought a change in coaching staff, with the long time head coach being replaced by last year’s assistant head coach who had been in that role for only a year. Like the tennis team, the boys’ soccer coaches are shaping the team, both athletically and in character. They have worked hard and respect has been built among the players, as well as for the coaches.
Yesterday, we watched as the soccer team fought hard in a final regional match to come from behind and win to be WIAA regional champions! This, again, set a new school record! Wow! It has been a great season, watching this team grow in maturity and learn to trust that each one has a job. The jobs must all be done well to gel as a team and emerge with a win. I think they have learned that while some wins are easier than others, each is still shaped by hard work. In addition, they have been exposed to poor sportsmanship; a local team refused to shake the boys’ hands after a loss. The other team’s coach let this happen. I know our coaches would not encourage or allow the same sort of behavior. The soccer team is not finished and will move forward to sectional games this week, which will take them on the road. Of course, we all are hoping for a win. But, whatever happens, hard work and respect will continue to be the foundation.
As a parent, I am both pleased and proud that my boys were part of these teams. Not only because it is “cool” they both were part of championship teams in 2017 that set records at their high school. But, because the experience has been good for their character development. When everyone believes, “one for all, and all for one,” as the soccer mantra has been this fall, it holds everyone accountable for the outcome. Everyone. And, that is part of some great teamwork, and admirable character.