By SALLY McCARTHY
ALAH High School held their Winter Sports Awards Night on Thursday, March 2. Athletic Director Mr. Nathan Seal opened the program saying, welcome to the winter sports awards. Tonight provides us the opportunity to look back on all of the accomplishments of our girls basketball, boys basketball, and cheer programs during this past season. 61 years ago, President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech in Rice Stadium intended to persuade the American people to support the Apollo program. A couple of lines in that speech have transcended the test of time. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we’re willing to accept.” Tonight, we are not on a stage delivering a message to an entire country or a warning to a foreign rival, but the words in President Kennedy’s speech are still relevant. We choose to do things not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
Being an athlete is hard. Going through the physical and mental challenges of a season is hard. Handling the pressure to perform and meeting the self expectations and the expectations of others is hard. The student-athletes here tonight chose to commit to hard work, to teamwork, to long hours, to bumps and bruises, and to highs and lows. They chose to put themselves out there in front of an audience and give it their best over and over again. Congratulations to each and every student athlete for having the bravery to meet the challenges this season and push yourself to do your best.
Being a coach is hard. Being away from your own family and missing your own children’s events is hard. Making tough decisions and understanding that those decisions will be critiqued is hard. Moving forward after a tough loss is hard. Managing the needs of a group of individuals and guiding them to play as a single unit is hard. The impact you have on your student-athletes is far greater than the number of wins or the trophies you earn in a season. Thank you for your commitment to our student-athletes.
Being a parent is hard. Watching from the stands when your own child or the team is struggling is hard. Making sure that all of the little things are done (washing uniforms, driving to practice and games, etc.) is hard. Watching your senior play their final game of the season is hard. Thank you for all of the support you provide throughout the season.
I have been fortunate enough to experience being an athlete, a coach, and a parent. There have been some lows and many highs on my journey but it has always been worth it. The memories we all take with us from athletics are priceless and last a lifetime.
I would like to finish with a memory that I have from this season. After our boys basketball game at Oakland High School, I started folding up sideline chairs to help their athletic director get the gym picked up. Without asking, several of our student-athletes and a few of our parents jumped in and started folding the chairs and putting them on the chair rack. Not only did this happen at Oakland, it is a regular occurrence after our home athletic events. This might not seem like it is a big deal, but this is an example of doing things the right/Knight way. Tri-County’s AD sent me a text thanking our students for their help and commented that “our students are true class acts.” Sometimes doing the little things might get overlooked, but the impact of doing those little things can be huge. I am proud of all of the big things we accomplished this season but I am also just as proud of all of the little things that make us who we are.”
“Before we recognize our student-athletes, I would like to take a moment and offer some special thanks to some individuals and groups that are important to the success of our athletic programs: ALAH Sports Boosters, Miller Bus Transportation, Katherine Dams – Athletic Trainer, our high school faculty and the Board of Education for their support of our athletic programs, Mrs. Schrock, Mrs. Martinez, and Mrs. Seegmiller in the high school office, Mrs. McGrath, Mrs. Creek, and Mr. Cheek in the unit office, local Media outlets including The Arthur Graphic-Clarion, Record Herald News, News Progress, New-Gazette, Herald and Review, WCIA and WAND for their coverage this season, custodial and maintenance staff, basketball game night crews: scorebook, and scoreboard, Bob Silvanik – announcer, Mr. DeLaughter and the pep band for playing at some of our home games and the students that volunteered to sing the national anthem, parents and coaches – Thank you for your energy, passion, and commitment to our student-athletes. Last but certainly not least, thank you to our student-athletes. Congratulations on your seasons – it was a pleasure to watch you compete and perform.”
The coaches were up next for a season summary and to present the Knight Award for their respective sport. Mr. Seal introduced Coach Brad McGill for his synopsis of the boys’ basketball season. He discussed the JV/Fresh, Soph/Freshman teams that finished 14-12 saying they were fun to watch, unselfish and he was proud of their efforts. For the varsity he stated their record as 12-19 and of those losses ten were to teams that were regional champs this year which is a testament to the step up in competition they have seen in the last couple of years.
Coach McGill listed his traits for the Knight Award as commitment, dedication, sacrifice, service, team first, scholarship and doing more than just perform. The boys basketball Knight Award went to Clay Seal who Coach McGill called, “a great kid who found his niche, and he has gotten to know him over the past three years in three different sports and was proud of the man he has become.”
Up next was cheer coach Misty Appleby who talked about the cheerleaders’ season, which as she said, “is the world’s longest season beginning with tryouts in March, through summer camps and practices, on through football from August to November and then straight into basketball from November to February.” She introduced her assistant Brittany Bartley and thanked her and Lori Jefferson, who choreographed the dance the cheer squad did on Senior night.
Coach Appleby then thanked Mr. Seal for all the changes in the gym and the school saying, “the school looks amazing and is a place to be proud of.” She then went on to thank the girls and boys basketball coaches for allowing them to cheer for them and also thanked the students and athletes for the way they support each other.
For the cheerleader Knight Award, Coach Appleby said this person was amazing, willing to help others, kind, considerate, a hard worker and someone you want kids to look up to and that person was Lilian Edwards.
Head Girls Basketball Coach Mac Condill was at the podium next and echoed what the others had said about the gym changing over time, “going from not knowing where you were to now where the gym is branded.”
Coach Condill talked about the varsity record of 20-10 against stiff competition with their losses against opponents who had a combined record of 181-73. The team overcame adversity and injury with hard work and improvement to their mental toughness.
The JV team finished with a 10-8 record going 7-2 in their last nine games. Both teams followed the mantra of “end with a board, get a stop, and get a good look.” He encouraged all the girls “to see more joy, show more joy and find joy in the game.”
For the girls’ basketball Knight Award Coach Condill said his recipient had a tremendous attitude, was the most consistent, was a great teammate, and was dedicated to the team and that person was Charley Condill.
Mr. Seal then introduced the All Lincoln Prairie Conference selections for boys and girls basketball and they came forward to receive their certificates from their coaches.
The three sports then went to separate areas to further discuss their seasons and present individual awards.