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Sunday, March 13, 2011

March, Spring Training, Basketball, and High School Forensic Students

I love the month of March. It is a month of uncertain weather... usually at least two last wintry blasts of cold weather and snow. It is a month that suggests good things to come and creates tumultuous times as well. This blog is about those days. It is a fairly tricky thirty-one days. Lots of exciting things are happening. Spring training has been in session for at least a week. It is the time for the familiar sounds of wood popping against the "seamed orbs" of summer, the smell of freshly cut grass and  the predictions of who will be on the final rosters. It is the time for all baseball fans to gather together and proclaim that this really is the year. Except for the Royals. But that is okay, because we've been told that 2012 actually is the year that it finally happens. Those amazing rookies will start to filter in next season and find their spots on the roster and our dreams will finally come true.

March is also the time for the culmination of the most exciting of all sporting events, college basketball.. The NAIA is playing their national tournament again in Kansas City. Five days of excitement where one can carry in a sack lunchin the morning, find a seat with a perfect vantage point, and camp out all day watching basketball played by men with names that won't grace the rosters of the NBA next year. Then there is the event called "March Madness" for 64, no, make that 68 NCAA division one teams who all share the same dream. Win it all.

March has created new words like "bracketology". B-R-A-C-K-E-T-O-L-O-G-Y,(noun, where people choose winners of basketball games, record those winners on a personal bracket with one common dream). Win it all. Some make their choices based on statistical analysis, others check the newspaper for the favorites and others actually choose their winners based on the school colors, school nickname or other creative methods.

March also lets me know that golf is just around the corner...because of some of those March days where the "spring like" weather pushes up the bulbs in the flower beds and tricks the Magnolia trees into blooming too soon. Days like those get me to thinking again about the swing.  It's time to polish the clubs, clean out the bag, inventory my Pro-V-1s, read the latest golf magazine and construct a plan to finally lower my handicap down to where it used to be. I haven't been there in about ten years, but this is the year, I know it.

March is also the month when High School Speech and Debate students make their final push to qualify for those season ending state and national tournaments. The past two weekends students from Savannah High School exhibited and demonstrated their abilities as they attempted to qualify for the NFL National Tournament in Dallas Texas this coming June. They competed against young people from other schools in the "Heart of America" district (the largest district in the nation). They were led by winners and qualifiers  Theo Tushaus, Gabe Riekhof, Luke Bishop and Forrest Richardson who qualified in two events. But the real leaders were those other students who sacrificed their weekends and afternoons in preparation but came up short. Some were trying for the first time and others the second and third, but some were making the attempt for the fourth and final time. Savannah Jones had committed and dedicated herself to qualifying to Nationals. It was her fourth year, and she didn't make it. Her preparation and performance was outstanding. None of her peers matched the rigors that she set for herself. I want all of my students to succeed, but after judges had ranked her on eighteen ballots over six rounds, the numbers came up short by one rank. It was difficult for me as her coach. It is easy to compliment and praise the winners but not everyone is a winner. These moments are the most difficult part of coaching young people. It isn't easy to know the correct words to use when consoling and reassuring someone who is heart broken. Savannah, I couldn't be prouder of your accomplishments. You have been dependable, supportive, committed, dedicated and I have enjoyed being your coach. Good luck next week at State quals and next year at Bradley.

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