Sunday, March 25, 2007

Encouragement in Sports

"Welcome to Indiana basketball." Hoops history was made in northern Indiana over the weekend by a small township school off US 30.

This should come as no surprise from the state that spawned the most famous and encouraging sports movie in history, 'Hoosiers,' detailing the run of the 'Milan Miracle' in 1954. That school had an enrollment of 161 students, Oregon Davis has 246 students; but what happened to both schools was similar Saturday night at the high school state finals in Indianapolis.

Oregon Davis became the first high school to win both the 1-A girls and boys championship in the same year. Four other schools previously had teams in both state finals, but none had won. In a state where basketball is beloved, where coach Bobby Knight ruled for a spell, that is a prized endeavor.

"I'm not an oddsmaker, but I gotta think the odds aren't good for such a small school to make this sort of history," said IHSAA assistant commissioner Ray Craft. "Having a community pull together for its young people is amazing and truly unique," IHSAA commissioner Blake Ress said.

Do you want to know what is even more amazing? Four years ago, when my son(from Bremen) played against the OD Bobcats, I was actually rooting for and feeling sorry for that team. They had the longest losing streak in the state. That group of boys had never won a game throughout their entire basketball careers. You could see it in their depresssed demeanor on and off the court. They were heart went out to them.

However, a younger group of guys did not let defeat define their school reputation. They began to look forward not back and did the next thing to prepare to change that losing legacy. They learned from the previous losses and then let that fuel the passion to perform better the next year and year after. Same coach but a different attitude. Their work took winning to a whole new level.

Congratulations to coach Travis Hannah and OD community for not giving up on the school and the team. Congratulations to the many individuals, too numerous to name, who believed and had a part in the process to encourage the kids to work hard and stay in the competition.

It does make a difference in athletics and the game of life to have people behind the scenes who believe in you and help you reach your goals. Let that be a lesson to all of us. And as they say, the rest is Indiana basketball history!

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