2017-10-18 / Editorials

Mike Reese

“I was just thinking”

If you live in the South and you’re asked what sport in your high school or college is

King, then someone might call you a moron if your answer wasn’t football, of course. In fact as I write this on a Saturday afternoon I’m surfing between three TV college football games. No other sport has facilities that can come close to matching a football stadium. Of course no other sport has the budget that can equal a football budget either. So, football doesn’t need a publicity boost from me, especially this year.

What about all the other sports, baseball, basketball, softball, tennis? They’re all worthy. But for today only, let’s put them on the back burner. Just today. Let’s concentrate on a team that gets, probably, the least recognition, a team that has won a State Championship, two State Championships runners-up, 2006, 2012, 2013, 2014 Region Boy’s Champs, and Region Girl’s Championships in 2014. And this team has qualified for 13 of the last 16 years for the Region Championship contests. The coach of this team has been named Region Coach of the Year five times and State Coach of the Year once. Any sport at any school would covet that record.

Think hard now. What sport at Jenkins County schools can claim those records? Stop reading for a minute and think hard. It’s on the tip of your tongue, right? No, it’s not our swim or lacrosse team. Your difficulty in naming this team makes my point. They’re our “fourth cousin” team and they’re called our cross country teams, middle and high school. They run four afternoons each week during their season, September and October. Their “practice field” is the city block behind the football bleachers. Thanks to the city for providing them a ready-made practice facility. It’s grueling and they’re spent when they finish a practice or one of their meets.

And if you’ve never been to a cross country meet, then you should. If you want to see grit, determination, and many tongues out over bottom lips then go to a cross country meet. The Ray Miller Invitational meet was recently held at our local State Park, Magnolia Springs, with seven teams from around the area participating. We’re fortunate to have our state park. Thanks to the staff and volunteers at the park for providing this venue for our schools. It’s a favorite of other runners and coaches. There’s no prettier course on the team’s schedule.

Bring your own chairs. There are no bleachers or concessions either. Bring a cooler, too. All of the runners could use a cool drink before and after each meet. The course lengths vary anywhere from a mile to three miles plus, over all types of terrain. And even more, they could use more cheers, more cheers coming from someone besides Mommas and Daddies or Grandpas and Grandmas. These kids work hard, as hard at their sport as any other team and deserve more recognition. There’s no sport in our school that has given more bang (titles & trophies) for the few bucks they remove from our athletic budget.

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