By Mark Carpenter –
I’ve seen it before hundreds of times, and hopefully I will see it hundreds more. Not that it is a good thing, but I have witnessed the sadness that envelopes a sports squad when their season comes to an end. I have seen the tears and emotions, even had them myself when my own two kids reached the end, and last week I had the misfortune of being there for three nights of pain as the final three Adams County basketball teams left in the tournament saw their seasons end, all under different circumstances, but all painful nonetheless.
First it was the Manchester Greyhounds, who had such high hopes going into their game with Portsmouth Clay, only to see Clay dash those hopes within the first few minutes of the game. Then it was the Peebles Indians, who season came to an unexpected and heartbreaking end in their first tournament game for the second consecutive year. If you don’t think that coaches put their heart and soul into their teams, all you had to do was take one look at the expression on Coach Josh Arey’s face after his team’s two-point loss.
Then this past weekend, it was the North Adams Lady Devils, once again foiled in their attempt to make it to the regional tournament, once again falling just short after showing their moxie in coming back from a double digit deficit to be just one flick of the ball away from winning. There might be a few more tears when it is a girls team, but it is still painful to watch.
Being a small town sports writer is a lot like being a teacher. You do become attached to the kids and want to see them be successful, in this case it is in the sports arena, though I know all of these kids will be ultra-successful in life. I remember the feeling I had when my daughter walked off of the basketball court for the final time, and my son made his last walk off of a baseball diamond, and there is no getting around it. It hurts.
I wrote in this column a few years ago about how the senior year in high school is dotted everywhere with the word “last.” You are going to take your last high school exam, eat your last high school lunch (which you may actually be thankful for), sit through your last class, and eventually walk about the doors for the final time as a high school student. Some of you will be jumping for joy at that moment, others will be freaking out because that horrible thing called “adulthood” is staring you down.
Let me give it to you straight, it ain’t gonna be easy. The biggest and longest roller coaster in existence is the one called “life”, and you may as well prepare for the ride now. Good times and bad times, they go together to write your book of life. Of course, my wish for you is that it is all good times.
Don’t let that word “last” get in your head too much, life is full of “lasts”, just as it is full of “firsts”. Make the most of both of them.
When I start to wax philosophical in this column, music always seems to come to mind, so I recommend that you take a listen to Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink”, or Trace Adkins’ “You’re Gonna Miss This”. Personally I will steer you to my favorite group for the last 40 years, Chicago, when they sang “Only the beginning, only just a start.” That’s what these days are for you, a start. Thank you for allowing me to be a very, very small part of your athletic careers and though we survived three nights of pain last week, we shall overcome. Go forth and make us all proud.