Many things can come from a sporting event, which is a huge reason why sports are a huge part of so many of our lives. You can have wins, losses, injuries, leadership, one-handed catches, home runs, no-hitters, upsets, adversity, momentum, diving digs, personal best times, high fives, dancing, and crowds screaming; but none are better than sportsmanship. When coaching a sport whether it’s volleyball on a Tuesday night, softball on a Saturday morning, or football on a Friday, you try to teach your kids that there is a way to win and lose.
If you play or coach a sport long enough there is always one concept that is inevitable, no matter how good you are, there is always someone or another team that is better than you. Sooner or later there will come a time when you will stand across from them and have to accept the fate you cannot run from, and will have to answer a question no matter which side you are on. That question is simple; knowing that truth, when you are the individual or the team that is superior how will you handle it? Will you run up the score and try to score 100 points, will you try and embarrass your opponent just to make yourself feel good, even though you know that in the next match, or the next game someone could do that to you? Or are you going to show grace and sportsmanship, and give other kids a chance to learn and play?
That was the exact scenario that took place on Thursday night when the Zebras played Hale. The Zebras stormed out of the gates scoring 35 unanswered points, making the score 35-0 two minutes into the second quarter. It was decision time for the coaches and players, and they definitely made the right one. The final score was 35-14, giving many younger players a chance to get their first varsity action. It also gave Hale a chance to work on some things themselves, so they could also continue to try and build their program. I know some people have that NO MERCY mentality, and if that is you, be careful of the oats that you sew. Others may be thinking, it does not make those other teams feel better if you show them pity, or act like you feel sorry for them, you are wrong for your thinking as well. The Zebras do not feel pity or feel sorry for the Hale coaches and players, they respect them. The staff and players respect the fact that the players show up every day and practice in the August heat, just like us. The coaches respect their coaches for putting in all the hours to try and build a winning program, just like us. They respect the fact that they only dressed 21 players, and that those 21 players stepped on the field and did all they could. You see, the only way to truly understand the business of coaching and playing sports is to live in this world, and anyone that does, we RESPECT. Hale coaches and players have earned that just as much as the Zebras have, and I could not be prouder to be a Zebra.
This article stems from an email that was sent to our great coaching staff at Claremore. I want to share the contents so the rest of the community can celebrate alongside not just our football program, but the way all the Zebra coaches and teams operate in this great district. Thank you, Zebra coaches and players.
Here are the contents of the email:
“I just wanted to thank you for the way you and your team approached the game last night with Nathan Hale. Claremore is a much superior team and could have won by a large amount. Instead, you chose to pull out your starters, giving other players some experience and game time. It also allowed Hale to continue playing and developing skill and experience. Beyond football, the grace you showed a lesser team by allowing them to continue to compete, is an amazing life example for your team.
I live in Bartlesville (my son-in-law coaches at Hale), but you have a new Zebra fan for life. You and your program are really a class act.”