KOVAR: In sports or not, life is always what you make of it (With Videos)

There’s a vending machine in our office here at the Herald Journal. Sixty cents for a can of pop. Not a bad deal, right?

Here’s the catch. You need exactly sixty cents in the form of two quarters and a dime. If you don’t have that, you better have a dollar bill to get change. No five-dollar bills. Just ones.

You need 60 cents in the form of two quarters and a dime to receive the beverage you want. Not six dimes. Not two quarters and two nickels.

It can be maddening at times. I’ll have three quarters, which is more than enough, yet it won’t get me the caffeine boost I desire after another long night. I’ll have a five-dollar bill, but that’s still not going to get the job done, despite me having far more than I need for a single can of pop.

Sometimes in the world of sports, and in life for that matter, you can find yourself in a spot like that. Having everything you need to be successful, and a different result presents itself, all because of something minor as not having the right coins. That’s where it all becomes what you make of it.

In the past year or so, social media sites have added a feature called memories. This gives users an opportunity to look back on some of their posts, photos, and videos from years back that happened on that day.

I had one the other day that made me stop and think for a bit. For those who don’t know, I worked in Sleepy Eye for a year before I came to the Herald Journal. During my time there, I covered one of the greatest moments I think I will ever get the luxury to cover. That moment came up in my memories and got me thinking.

The moment came on the campus of Minnesota State University-Mankato. It happened March 11, 2016. It was a great basketball game between the Sleepy Eye Indians and ML/GHEC/T Jaguars, but that’s not the reason it stands out.

Out of the 2,160 seconds in a high school basketball game, 2,157.1 of those seconds were just a game. The final 2.9 seconds were something much more.

In those final two seconds, Sleepy Eye’s Madi Heiderscheidt checked into the game just 62 days after tearing her ACL in a conference game earlier in the season. It wasn’t much. Just a few seconds and a simple inbounds pass as the Indians ran out the clock. Yet it was so much more.

Heiderscheidt, who was arguably the top player for the Indians, was forced to watch her team after suffering her injury. The Indians went on to reach the state tournament in 2016, along with Heiderscheidt leading them from the bench now.

Flash forward to 2018, and Heiderscheidt was then a senior. Back healthy and even stronger, she led her team back to the state tournament once again. This time, the Indians made an impressive run all the way to the Class A title game despite being unseeded.

In her sophomore year, Heiderscheidt had everything she needed in front of her. She had the 60 cents in the correct form, but life had other plans.

Instead of feeling sorry for herself and letting life get the best of her, Heiderscheidt fought back. She came back stronger. She took one of life’s biggest challenges at the age, and turned it into something she, her teammates, her school, and family will remember forever – another state tournament appearance and run to the state title game.

Think that’s the only moment that stands out from games I’ve covered at the Taylor Center in Mankato? Not quite.

Almost a year ago today was the shot by Mayer Lutheran’s Cole Hagen in the Section 2A title game. As great and memorable as the shot from Hagen was, it’s the story behind it that makes it even better.

Hagen missed more than two months of the regular season dealing with injuries. It was his senior year. Instead of enjoying the game of basketball with his friends and teammates, he was forced to be sidelined.

Hagen battled the injuries all season long, and returned to action shortly before the playoffs began. Even though he was back on the court, his level of play wasn’t exactly where he liked it to be, especially with a tough postseason run ahead of Mayer Lutheran.

Leading up to the Section 2A title game against Springfield, Hagen wasn’t the shooter he normally was. He was missing wide-open looks, and missing badly. He just wansn’t the player he was the season before.

Through the first three games of the playoffs, Hagen didn’t make a single 3-pointer. He was saving hitting that first one for a better time.

With seconds remaining in the championship game against Springfield, Hagen received the pass outside the 3-point line. A trip to the state tournament was in the hands of the kid who missed two months of the season dealing with injuries. In a way which can only happen in the beautiful world of sports, Hagen found nothing but the bottom of the net as the buzzer sounded and he sent his team to the state tournament for the first time since 2000.

Like Heiderscheidt, Hagen could have let his injuries get the best of him. He didn’t though. He stayed patient. He waited for his moment, and in that moment, he delivered with the biggest shot of his life.

Now comparing going to the state tournament and hitting buzzer beaters to a can of pop might be a bit of a stretch. I get that. But I also think it fits perfectly.

There will be times in our lives where things don’t go our way. We don’t have the correct form of 60 cents. We get injured. We lose a loved one. Things like that are bound to happen.

Life, and sports for that matter, are perfectly interchangeable. We deal with obstacles almost every day. It’s how we deal with them and what we make of them that matters. We take on the new challenges that present themselves in hopes that our determination and patience result in our very own memorable moment. Our very own buzzer better.

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