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Press Box

By Staff | Nov 23, 2016

Congratulations to the Silver Knights’ Madison West and Abbie Fletcher on being chosen first team 3A All -OVAC volleyball and to Paden City’s Maylana Price and Aubrey Neff for their selection to the 1A squad.

Also, Paden City Coach Fred King was selected as the 1A coach of the year and Neff was the 1A player of the year both were well deserved.

However, every athlete deserves their just due. I find it very hard to believe that there is a better setter in the Ohio Valley than the Silver Knights’ Macy Long. A four -year starter who had a knack for getting the ball close to the net and in position for the hitters, I have to question who overlooked this hard working athlete. Players of her caliber should never go unnoticed or unrecognized. She was not only All-OVAC worthy, she is also All-State worthy. It will shock me if she isn’t chosen. After watching the Silver Knights’ volleyball all season long, I just find it that the best volleyball setter I have seen in several years was left off the OVAC volleyball squad.

Macy provided leadership that some coaches can only dream for. She was a reliable setter who amassed nearly 2,000 assists this season and will be hard to replace.

This past Saturday, the top regular season scorers and touchdown reception leaders were published by the W.Va. Sports Writers Association. The Knights ‘Jace Reed was featured with 122 points . Tyler Anderson, who finished the regular season with 116 points ,was four points short of making the list. Reed and Anderson gave the Silver Knights a hard to stop one-two punch this year.

Anderson scored 98 points last season as a junior while playing in only eight games. His role as a rusher was diminished this season due to Reed’s return from last year’s injury, yet he still showed his versatility this season coming through in a big way with seven rushing touchdowns, 10 receiving touchdowns and three special teams touchdowns. He was also a state leader in interceptions with eight while also leading the team in solo tackles with 43. In the playoff game against East Hardy, he scored on the ground, through the air and on a two points conversion run while also passing for a two-point conversion. He to will be hard to replace as he ended as the teams leading scorer and was a threat to score every time he touched the ball.

I waited all year for something great to happen and when it did, however, in this corner it ended in disappointment. Not because the Knights lost, but because I couldn’t be there. I raise my hat to the hard work of the Silver Knights, both in football and volleyball, and to the coaches for their dedication and the never give up attitude. It is not an easy task to make the playoffs in W. Va .Class A football. It’s equally as hard to win a sectional and regional championship in volleyball and to be among the eight teams left hoping to bring home the championship.

Every sports cliche you can think of, I have uttered: teamwork, respect for the coach, being part of something bigger than yourself, mental toughness and practice making perfect. It is great to see the kids catch on to those things and reap the rewards. I like to see the local teams win. I like it when they work hard. I like it when they spend hours in preparation because they want to win.

The aching desire to win can be seen on the sidelines of competitions even among the youngest participants. The TY-CON Knights are proof of that. Parents pace the sidelines, twitching at every kick or pitch or shot of the ball, shouting exhortations at their children and the team. I have watched parents cover their eyes, unable to watch, such is the stress they feel. In many cases it becomes clear that it is the parents who want to win. We identify with our kids success and it quickly becomes our own.

As spectators, parents seek confirmation even at the earliest stages that great athletic possibilities exist for their children: a better team, a starting spot, varsity experience or a college scholarship. It starts so innocently, we ask our children, “How’s practice going, are you getting to play? Is the coach treating you right? Are you learning anything? How good are these teams you are up against this weekend? Have you played them before and did you win? Do you think you guys can win this weekend?” No kid needs this pressure. Their coaches want to win, and their teammates want to win. It’s counterproductive for them to have to worry about letting their parents down.

Now, parents have every right to be proud of their kids accomplishments but by focusing to heavily on winning they fail to focus on what is really important and worse yet they refute what is important.

There were some great kids playing football and volleyball this year, some great athletes running cross-country and playing golf. Some will be back next year and some will move on. I hope that each one of them used this years athletic competitions as a venue for learning some of life’s most important lessons. Life lessons don’t always require victories and in fact many are best taught in defeat.

There are several things to remember in life, one is there is always someone better than you, at everything. Another is you can do your very best and still not succeed, but it is important in fact essential to continue trying long after success is no longer a possibility.

People will cheat and you will lose because someone is not honest, those who enforce the rules can be mistaken or even biased and the conditions under which you have to operate are often hard to understand.

Many times I have witnessed the best players getting the worst end of the deal. But one lesson worth learning is how to be a gracious loser and a humble winner. A team is about something much larger than any one person and playing your role no matter what it may be is an honorable thing to do.

Failing to win is not failing, you can play a great game and someone else can just play better. Failing to win can just be bad luck. Success is when teams and players improve and that is something I have seen here locally. The athletes in our local schools work very hard and they reap their rewards. As I look back on this year I have seen conference champions, sectional and regional champs, playoff contenders and many individual awards. And the school year is still young. Much more is coming including academics. We are by far some of the states best.

I like our chances. The outcome cannot always be controlled but your work ethic can. Practicing will always make you better and more confident and many times lead to success.

Part of the pressure of modern-day athletics is that the stakes for kids at every level seem so much higher than they were for their parents. Between the very permanent record created by social media and the Internet to the hyper competitive college process, kids have few places they can safely fail. Athletics is that place. The outcome of any given game is entirely meaningless. The playing field provides a place for kids to experience heated competition, losing, regrouping and beginning again, without consequence. As parents stand on the sidelines baying for conquest, they give weight to something that, realistically, has little meaning and takes away the chance to learn from loss.

Wanting to win is human, it always feels better than losing. But our larger job as parents is not to teach our kids to do what feels best, but rather to equip them for life without us.

It is our job to teach them that they can only control their own effort, and not always the outcome. And that is surely enough, though one of the best parts of any competition is still grabbing a pizza afterwards.

Winter sports are about to begin. There will be boys and girls basketball nearly every night and several wrestling matches will bring more excitement. I see some good competition on the horizon and I can’t wait till it starts.

West Liberty University is ranked number 1 in the NCAA Division II and Wheeling Jesuit is playing well with Magnolia product freshman Preston Boswell proving he’s the real deal. If any of you know this basketball player you know he has put his heart and soul into the sport since he was a little boy. His dedication and hard work have paid big dividends. And he is a young gentleman in every sense of the word. A real winner!

The Mountaineers will be one of the better Big 12 teams, and as always Huggins will make things interesting. Here on the local level, Tyler Consolidated has several quality players back on both the boys and girls teams. I think they will be fun to watch and have what it takes to be in every game.

Paden City will be young, but they do have some skill and veteran coach King will have them ready. I look for the Wildcats to surprise some people this year. They won’t be pushovers, so don’t take them lightly. The Wildcats’ girls team will have their work cut out for them and are hoping to improve on last years record.

If you want some real excitement come out and watch Tyler’s wrestling team. They have a small group, but Coach Snyder has some talent and should get many individual wins.

Thank you to all the fall sports coaches for the excitement you brought to us all. We appreciate your hard work.

I also want to congratulate Charlene Galluzzo on her award as volleyball official of the year. She is one of the hardest workers I have ever been associated with. She prides herself on knowing the rules and does a tremendous job of controlling her matches. It was a well deserved honor.