Friday, November 12, 2010

"Small-town" size, "Big-time" expectations

As your Saturday paper hits your porch this morning, there is a group of local girls getting out of bed, having breakfast and getting ready for the biggest day of their young lives.

Today, at noon, the Lehman Cavaliers volleyball team will take the floor at Wright State University to play for a state title. They are looking to prove to all, that they are the best volleyball team in the state of Ohio.

For most of them, it is also the chance to uphold a tradition of excellence in volleyball at Lehman Catholic High School. Teams led by Coach Greg Snipes have two state championship banners on the wall already, one from 2000 and one from 2005. 

On Friday night, Covington and Lehman squared off against one another in football. By the time you read this, one will have moved on.

I wonder if many of us realize how blessed we are in our little corner of Ohio to have such fine schools and athletic programs. 

Piqua, Miami East, Lehman, Russia and Versailles are just a few schools that come to mind when one mentions state champions in any number of sports.

Many of these schools are perennial contenders for best of the best in our state.

This obviously means that we have some fine young athletes in our area. It also means that we have many fine young men and women living among us. 

Very few of our young athletes end up on the top step of the OHSAA state podium because they were born with athletic skills so far superior to others that they could breeze to a championship. 

Most of they were born with good genes and maybe a God-given talent for running, jumping and hand-eye coordination. 

The defining difference is that our state champions, and those who continually contend for state championships, have a work ethic and desire to excel that drives them to be the best they can be. 

That work ethic and drive is what defines our area kids off the floor as well. Many of these young men and women who wear championship medals are also honor students. The drive for excellence that burns inside them is not reserved for athletics. 

To be fair, we are also blessed with coaches who are skilled, understanding and willing to put in the extra time necessary to take a kid or a team to a state championship. Please understand that the road to a state championship is not one that ends up at home with dinner on the table at a reasonable hour. Coaches put in even more hours than their athletes in many cases.

We don't know just how lucky we are to have these types of students among us. Today's state champion high school athlete is tomorrow's teacher, coach, businessman or businesswoman.

As parents living in semi-rural southwest Ohio, we could be worrying if our kids are being prepared for a life  of competing with "big city" types as our world becomes ever-smaller.

Nearly every sports season around our area, one or more athletes or teams make a run at a state championship. Our student athletes routinely knock off "Goliath" from Cincinnati and Columbus schools.

The parents in our "neck of the woods" aren't raising kids who even see themselves as "David" in these state showdowns. I see teams and athletes who are confident in themselves, their parents and their schools to have the support they need to bring home that state championship trophy.

I am proud to live in a community where a commitment to excellence and drive to win is so strong ... on, and off, the field.

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