Oh how I wish I had the knowledge to pen the piece I truly want to write. A few weeks ago some families in our town experienced yet another epic weekend in the area of high school sports.
Both girls Varsity Water Polo and boys Varsity Soccer earned respective titles as Section champions. Proving that our young sportsmen also have a future, three cross country runners also placed at the highest of their level.
I’ve shared before, I’m proud of much that comes out of not only this town but our school system. For the sake of argument I will both acknowledge and recognize it is not ‘one size fits all.’ Not every child exceeds, not everyone feels they ‘fit,’ and not every parent is pleased with the structure our district offers.
I also happen to know that not everyone finds home schooling to fit (once it’s tried) or the perfect private school to be as amazing as they had anticipated. In other words there is no such thing as a flawless education institution. As parents we do our best to find the one that fits our student. We hope they not only survive it but come through it with an education as well as valuable life lessons.
While I recognize this is … yet another … piece springing from athletic achievements, I feel fortunate in my knowledge of our school’s quality education as well. Our athletes must uphold a certain grade point average to ‘suit up.’
As a side note, Stanislaus County Office of Education also hosted the County Spelling Bees for elementary and junior high levels this past month. All four of our elementary schools are home to Gold and Silver medal winners. Oakdale Junior High is home to the Overall County Winner for their category.
Simply put from where I sit, I see a certain level of balance. Some of this is largely due to a team of dedicated educators, parent volunteers and an administration not above re-examining how things are done.
I feel fortunate to not only be a spectator, but be trusted to share pieces and parts of all of this.
Now back to the athletes for a second and returning to a few weeks back.
I did not follow along the soccer season as many did, but I still celebrated the win of these young men. The fun thing about being imbedded in a community, working in a place for a long period of time is … quite simply the view.
A small handful of boys (ahem, young men) on that team, I have known since they were in grade school or younger. Of course this hardly seems possible. I still flinch when many of them speak, with those deep, changed voices.
Our acquaintance is not common public knowledge so throughout the season I took much delight hearing stories about the ‘sportsmanship’ of the Oakdale High School soccer team. Players mentioned for giving up ‘individual’ recognition in the spirit and name of teamwork. The grace they displayed when faced by teams who may have missed that memo. The class in which they earned their wins and accepted their losses.
So that following Sunday I was privileged to be in communication with a few of their mommas. Friends overcome with emotion they not did recognize. After all it is just a game; well, not really.
As we picked through the thoughts and emotion of what that win meant to them, their boys, that team and those families it was all revealed.
Sports are their own type of club in many ways. Many of these kids began showing up on a field when their socks had to be doubled down because their shins were not yet long enough to accommodate the fabric.
You spend enough time in bleachers, on a sideline or in a gym and those players and their crew become family. Just like the learning that takes place in a classroom, the learning and growing that comes with a team is not only real but genuine.
This town is fortunate. We have an exceptional group that has stepped up to mentor, teach and support our young people. Role modeling is immeasurable.
So as one friend and I shot thoughts back and forth via text message I stated the obvious … “your joy comes from pride. You have each done well. What you learned this year is you have not only fostered athletes, you have raised sportsmen. That’s huge.”
That’s what this all boils down to. This town is far from perfect. It’s ever changing and we have some work to do in a few of many areas. I, however, happen to believe even perfect is flawed. That’s the beauty. The only way to truly be able to appreciate the good, the pure, the genuine … is to have view and insight to the bad, the scarred, the devious. Through it all we rise above and if we’re lucky we come out on the other side with a field or a town full of noble sportsmen.
Think about it. God Bless and Happy Thanksgiving.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter 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.