Another season has been wrapped up. This year marks one that dreams are made of, for many of this town’s young men and their families. The 2012 Oakdale Mustang football season will now live on in the history books as well as the memories of all who will say ‘I remember when.’
The OHS Varsity Team: the players, coaches and families have spent yet another season making this ‘small’ valley town proud.
Before expanding much further I will be the first to share a few (somewhat important) facts.
First and most importantly this is not in any way, shape or form intended to be a ‘sports’ piece. Colleague Ike Dodson is well in his element giving readers the play by play and analytical details, as well as a fair perspective as a sideline viewer. I’m just a ‘mommy’ who likes to share her two cents on occasion.
In complete and all honesty it’s actually been a while since I’ve taken in a Mustang game from the sidelines. We were once avid followers of the team. Like most in this town, home games were a standing date on our social calendar. We braved the cold nights and rainy Sonora games with the best of them. But, sometimes ‘life’ gets in the way of certain longstanding traditions and for our family that just happened to be the case.
The post season, however, slowly brought us around and I am more than happy to report this team has earned the admiration and excitement of my children.
To some, we may be ‘front runners’ and to this I would simply say, if name calling helps get you through the day then I will gladly take that hat and place it on my head. No harm, no foul ... it’s all good.
Personally, the title I prefer is ‘community’ member and in this ‘small’ town, I like to think that title goes a long way. It’s Oakdale after all, the one and only place I have ever lived that rallies like no other place on the map. If there is a family in need, celebration in need of help or an organization looking for volunteers … just look to the 95361 to knock your socks off. This is a town of ‘doers’ plain and simple.
So, does it surprise me that our boys were on a bus headed to Carson last Friday morning? In a word … NO. Does it surprise me that people lined the streets to send them off? Again, no. And am I at all surprised that our side of the stands were just as filled or more so than the ‘home’ team whose school was a stone’s throw away? Absolutely not.
If there is one thing this town of ‘doers’ is committed to, it’s not only standing behind and supporting one another but going above and beyond for our young people.
Please don’t mistake this for being either naïve or blasé on the effort and dedication it takes for a team to achieve such greatness. Not only am I a mommy, but I am also an athlete. I understand (all too well) the sacrifice it takes of both an individual and their family to land in such a place. More importantly to have so much greatness assembled on one team, at the same time and led by the right team of coaches is not an everyday occurrence. This team and all that it is comprised of showed this town what can be accomplished if you have true passion, drive and courage.
Fortunately, for all of us, it’s happened. In the 11 years for which I have called this zip code home, I cannot honestly recall a time where I felt our team presented itself in any way other than honorable. It is football after all and sadly, it is not an uncommon occurrence to watch players and coaches let their anger get the best of them.
But there is something to be said for the group of young men that ‘come up’ through our football program. They present themselves in a manner of which some pro teams could take a few lessons. They are a band of brothers. Regardless of athletic level or placement they present themselves with pride, class and pure determination, last Saturday was no different.
For the mass majority who reside outside of the 95361 I heard words like: empathy, good effort and out matched. As a ‘community’ member I saw heart, determination and unrequited drive to play and finish with honor and pride. That is exactly what they did.
From the loading of the three charter buses full of fans early Saturday morning, to the turning on the big screen and seeing our team … it was all simply epic. To hear the announcers speak of our town, our boys and the fan support just made my shoulders sit back a little taller. Truthfully, this doesn’t happen every day, but how lucky are we that it did?
My eight-year-old summed it up for me both simply and accurately as we journeyed home from a viewing party Saturday night.
“Mommy,” he said. “They looked at the zero for a long time, but they never quit. The other team started to quit because they had so many points. Our team wasn’t done until the clock went to zero. That makes them winners.”
This is perhaps a simplistic view for some, but as a mom I find it to be perfect. These young men stepped on that field to do what they love … play football. In the end they demonstrated the type of sportsmanship and grace which was admired by an eight-year-old boy, as well as a 40-something mommy and many more.
Regardless of how that final score read, I will forever remember that state game as the day the rest of the world was given just a small peek of what we each get to live every day.
Well done, men, and thank you.
Teresa Hammond is circulation manager for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.