This week I am going with a different angle. I’ve written about most of our Minnesota teams the past few weeks so I thought it’d be good to go down another avenue. (Plus, I really didn’t feel like pointing out how the Vikings have ignored their offensive line issues. There will be plenty of time to rip them).
Instead, I decided I wanted to spend some time on this past winter’s high school sports. With another season gone, another great group of seniors across all of the area’s sports have suited up for the last time. After hours upon hours of working out, practicing and traveling near and far for different matches, tournaments or games, these seniors saw their final season come to an abrupt end.
Very few athletes go on to play their sport at college. Seemingly often, for many students the experience at college doesn’t compare to suiting up with their friends and playing in front of their community.
As a varsity assistant for the Watertown-Mayer boys basketball team, I have gotten to witness how special a high school team is first hand the past two seasons.
Our season specifically this year was one of ups and downs. We experienced some great wins and had some games that we felt like we left on the table. At the end of the regular season, we finished with a 10-16 record.
Section 5AA is the deepest section in class 2A, so that 10-16 record got us a 12 seed. We found ourselves matched up with the 5th seed Holy Family. We had lost to them earlier in the year 67-55, but we knew that anything was possible.
The kids practiced hard, bought into the game plan and went into the game with nothing to lose. After a hard fought battle, we came out on top 54-44. 12 seeds very rarely pull off the upset to beat the 5 seed in high school. In terms of QRF, we were ranked 73rd out of 125 teams… Holy Family was ranked as the 10th best team in the state.
In a different section, beating the 10th ranked team in state might mean you are in the section semi-finals or even the finals. Unfortunately for us, our next match-up was against 11th ranked Litchfield and two more top 10 teams awaited. Our season ended with a tough loss last Saturday morning.
I know as a senior, playing in your final high school game is a very emotional experience. What I did not expect was to feel similarly as a coach. Watching the clock tick down to the last second and going to the locker room with our seniors for the last time made my heart ache.
I am now 0-2 in being able to say anything to the seniors in that moment because I know if I tried, I would tear up. Both years I have simply given each senior a bro-hug and thanked them.
Our season, like everyone else’s, ended earlier than we were hoping for. We all dream about winning game after game and taking home a state title, but few of us get to accomplish such a feat. However, success doesn’t need to be defined by whether or not you won a state title. Upsetting Holy Family will be something that our team will never forget and that is the beauty of high school sports.