Getting Giddy for High School Sports

By Beacon Staff

It’s August and by next week fall high school sports will be underway. It’s a fine time of year, even for people with little interest in sports. High school sports are only partly about athletics – they’re largely about community spirit, proud parents and kids figuring out values that will stick with them the rest of their lives. I find myself far more enraptured by a late season match-up between Columbia Falls and Whitefish than I do by the Super Bowl. High school sports are personal, inspiring and important. And they’re about to begin. I’ll be standing on the sidelines with pen and notebook in hand.

Years ago, I believed basketball was my calling. Perhaps it never called loud enough or maybe I wasn’t listening, but my career ended in high school. Today I’m able to see basketball for what it was instead of what it wasn’t. Though I declined my scholarship opportunities and chose not to play in college, basketball helped lay the groundwork for my current work ethic and ability to maintain a reasonably efficient schedule. When you wake up at 5 a.m. to go to practice before school, then attend class all day, go to another practice after school and finish up the day with homework, you begin to understand the importance of not wasting a single minute of the day. At least I did.

So it is with much enthusiasm that I begin my second year reporting and writing about high school sports in the Flathead. A Friday night football game in Montana’s crisp fall air is a unique treasure and I have the delight of sharing the moment through my writing. Some people read it, many don’t. But often the readers are the athletes themselves, the parents of the game’s hero or a distant relative who stumbles upon the story on Google. That means a lot. These stories are for them. But they’re also for anybody who wants to know what the hometown kids are up to. Eventually, the goal is for me to have a prep sports blog that I’ll be able to update as often as I choose with links, anecdotes and stats. Hopefully we work that out sooner rather than later.

School pride. Rivalries. Mascots and screaming fans. Winning and losing. These are elements of the high school athletic experience, but they’re not everything. Floor burns and bruises. Parents chatting as they wait for their children to get out of the locker room. Long bus rides with teammates who have become your closest friends. Those are also vital parts of the experience. Next week, as the county’s five high schools begin to hold parent meetings and practices get underway, we will still be able to relish the warmth of summer, but the spirit of autumn will be here as well.