Someone recently asked me what it was about my job that I enjoyed the most.
I thought about it for a second or two and started rattling off a whole laundry list of things.
A lot of those things were on full display in the last few weeks as I zipped across the state of Ohio covering both the Jonathan Alder baseball and softball teams through the district, regional and state tournaments, ultimately ending at the state championship game for both teams.
One of my favorite things about covering sports is being able to watch the reactions up close of athletes immediately after tournament/playoff games. Not just the sure joy and uncontrollable happiness that comes with winning a big game like a state title, but the other side too.
Seeing those tears and sorrow, the anger and pain and pure devastation. I admit it, I actually like seeing the crying. Why? Because it shows these kids truly care. No I don’t want to purposely see somebody cry, but knowing a kid or team worked so hard to achieve a goal and to have them come up just short of it, they’ve definitely earned the right to cry.
So many young people today are criticized for not caring about things. So many of them are knocked for not working hard and dissed for their lack of initiative. But kids who have worked tirelessly for years, given maximum effort at all times and come up a little short, you deserve to be applauded.
Another beautiful thing about being paid to watch high school sports for a living is being able to see how a community can rally around a team or in Plain City’s case rally around a pair of fantastic teams.
It was an impressive sight being able to sit in the press area at both Akron’s Firestone Stadium and Huntington Park in Columbus and see the sure volume of parents, fans, alumni, students and members of the community trekking far and wide to cheer on the Pioneers.
Hundreds of Alder fans made the more than two-hour drive to Akron not once but twice in a three-day span. Many of those same fans drove up on Saturday morning, watched the Lady Pioneers lose to Lima Bath, jumped in their cars and made the drive back to Columbus to watch the baseball team play in the state final that evening.
Seasons like the one that just completed are rare. It’s not easy making it to the state tournament and it’s even harder to get to the title game. I know the Alder baseball team is making it look easy by advancing to the state tournament an impressive four times in five years, but this isn’t how it usually goes.
Teams have to work for years to get to the level the Pioneers are on the baseball diamond. It takes not only hard work, good fortune and a little luck, it also takes dedicated coaches, insightful administrators and and a supportive community.
The Pioneers softball team appears to be set up nicely for the future. There are a collection of sophomores and freshmen who played key roles this year and number of juniors ready to step into leadership roles. The school’s baseball team has proven it will again be a force as every single player in the program knows what playing in big games is all about.
So here’s to the future success of the Alder programs. I know you came up just short of your ultimate goals this spring, but know that the pieces are in place for many more extended postseason runs. Work hard, because it was proven this year that there’s a special mix of coaches, administrators and athletes there at Alder and with an entire Village behind you, anything is possible.
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616 ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.