Archive for Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Wild Card

November 13, 2008

It’s a little hard to believe but the fall sports season has already come and gone. It seems like just yesterday the warm August winds and freshly cut grass that always make me think football season is near were still blowing.

But in just a few days time, the fall sports season ended about quickly as it began. For Eudora, the high school sports season officially began on Aug. 18. Dreadful two-a-day practices for players soon became routine that week as coaches began working on basic fundamentals for each sport. In the days that followed coaches began implementing their various tactics and team strategies to get the most out of each student-athlete.

One of my first memories of the fall sports season was watching the girls volleyball team do drills by the west wall of the gym before practice. In their green practice shirts and knee pads, they shuffled around the court digging out spikes before practice. One thing I noticed was how short the team was. Coach Jill Stutler later admitted to exaggerating just a wee bit about the listed height of her team.

“I always do,” she said laughing after the season was over.

Eudora’s tallest girl was about 5-foot-5 this year. Height in volleyball is something you can’t coach, but it’s something every coach wants to have because it gives a team a decisive advantage at the net. But what the Cardinals lacked in height they made up for in heart. A team that short is generally a long shot at best to make the state tournament. But Eudora almost made it there. The Cardinals beat Bishop Ward at home earlier in the season, but gave their fans a great effort at sub-state while falling one win short of state and ending their season on Oct. 25.

Two days later, the soccer season ended. My first memory of this year’s soccer squad was seeing coach Gunar Harmon the first week of practice gather his team in a circle and everyone introduced themselves to the team. He also stressed to his team about being good students and looking out for each other during school before they took the field that day.

The soccer team didn’t win a game but it succeeded in other areas. The team had little speed and was outmanned against every opponent. But the kids battled through to the end and gained invaluable experience that will help next year.

The football team saw its season end Oct. 30 after a heart-breaking 35-28 victory against rival Baldwin on Senior Night. That game was unlike any other I’d ever seen. I witnessed a running back run for 443 yards in a single game, and walk off the field that night in tears. The tears went with him into the locker room and stayed with after he left.

Watching him leave the locker room that night brought back a memory from earlier in the year at practice when I took a photo of a kid making a tackle during a drill. I had never met the boy before so I asked him his name.

“Ryan Fisher,” he answered.

No, the football team didn’t reach its full potential in wins this year. But it was besieged by injuries and kept fighting. And it could well still be playing today if it wasn’t for that one more point it needed.

And last but not least, the cross country squad closed out its season with two sophomores running at the state meet at Wamego Nov. 1. The two sophomores battled injuries for much of the season but battled back and made it to state. No, the girls squad didn’t make it to state for the first time in five years, but the girls and boys squads have good cores coming back next fall.

And now as winter moves in, basketball and wrestling are upon us. I’ve seen some great games this fall and have met a lot of great people. I only hope that the winter and spring sports seasons are equally enjoyable.

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