Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A look back on a great 2008 softball season (& other ramblings)

I realize you're all kind of sad. Me, too. It's easy to be down when you realize it's over for another year. However, I think maybe we should be grateful instead. Grateful for the privilege of being around such a great bunch of kids. We didn't win the big blue trophy, but we won something much more valuable and lasting: the battle to produce good, decent, caring young women who will improve this world of ours, rather than infect it with more self-absorbed greed and dishonesty.

It's going to be particularly hard to say goodbye to this year's seniors. Jesi, Chasidy and Nicole are going to be hard to replace, both as players and as human beings. Have we ever had 3 better senior players? I don't know. But I'll tell you what I do know. We've never graduated 3 better kids. These 3 were always ready for anything. We could always depend on them no matter what the situation. No attitude, no disrespect, no loafing--just 100% total effort. That's a hard combination to beat. And trust me, nobody beat them very often. Good luck ladies, and Godspeed as you ride off to new adventures.

And now for the thanks. First, thank you to the 2008 Hub softball team. You gave us a great season. You won 30 games, finished ranked in the Top 10, swept the Area Regular Season (6-0), the Area Tournament (3-0) and both sub-state rounds (4-0), qualified for your second consecutive State Tournament, and won our first state tournament game since we moved to fast-pitch. Great job ladies. And please be advised: we expect no less next season. Thanks.

Secondly, thanks to the Hubbertville Maroon Nation. We have the best fans in the world. And I do mean world. Check out the origin of the hits on our athletic web site. Usually we have people from 10 or 12 states and several foreign countries checking on our teams. Talk about devoted fans! Did anybody notice we had more fans at the sub-state finals than the home team, even though we were 125 miles from home at 1 p.m. on a weekday? Wow! You're the best and I know you'll keep it up--it's the Hub way.

Thirdly, a belated thanks to a special group of young ladies that we all seem to have forgotten...a big thank you to the 2002 Lady Lions softball team. You were the first team to play fast-pitch and you did it with grace and determination. Lesser individuals would have pouted and whined but you all accepted the challenge. You not only had a winning season, but you barely missed the state tournament, losing two 1-run games in the sub-state finals. I have to admit that I didn't realize what an accomplishment this was at the time. But over the years I've gradually learned to appreciate what a spectacular season it really was. You laid a great foundation for every young lady who pulls on that maroon jersey from now on. I would name you all individually but I'd be afraid I'd leave somebody out. Next time you see one of these girls, give them a hug or a pat on the back and say thanks. They were and still are a big part of our success and legend. Thanks ladies. Better late than never, I guess.

Meagan McCollum, Jennifer Oden. Two ordinary names, two extraordinary people. And please, let's not forget the contribution of Nicki Hancock, one of the best leaders we've had in any sport. Thanks, Nicki. It would be hard to overstate the importance of what these ladies meant to our program. They were a large piece of the bridge from the old to the new era. They were the "old guys" on what we called the "kiddie korps." It's a big responsibility to be the oldest players on the team when you're just sophomores. These young ladies handled the load flawlessly. They were exactly what the younger kids needed: tough, determined leaders who never quit. And the great part was they led by example rather than words. That's leadership you can respect and learn from. Thanks, ladies.

My next to last thank you is kind of tricky. It may very well get me whooped. This guy avoids the limelight, or any kind of praise or acknowledgment, like the plague. But some things need to be said. Here goes...THANKS, COACH. You're the best. Period. End of story. Our success begins and ends with you. There aren't enough words in the English language to begin to thank you for all the things you've done for our school and our kids. Thank you.

The final thanks is the most important of all. A grateful thank you to the Big Man in the upstairs office who rides herd on this big old crazy world we live in. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of the Hub Maroon Nation. Hubbertville is not a perfect place. We have our faults and problems, but for the most part we work on them together as a family. There aren't many places like ours left. We're still more Mayberry than Orange County and that's a good thing. When you say your prayers tonight, please say one that we never change. We don't need to be more modern, more hip or whatever they're calling turning your back on what's good and decent these days. God help us stay the Hub. Can I get an AMEN?

The Old Gray Lion