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The Press Box For March 7

By Staff | Mar 7, 2018

Next week was supposed to mark the first high school softball games in the area, and baseball and track were soon to follow. Usually we say weather permitting. This season it looks like it will be when the kids get their 14 days of practice in. This has turned out to be the unexpected year for spring sports in West Virginia. Some teams are practicing and some aren’t. I don’t know what to make of that; there is basketball still going on, and it’s tournament time. I want to see kids on the ball fields and out running on the tracks. I want to see teachers in the classroom and teaching kids. Now don’t take this message wrong, because I support the teachers and all public employees 100 percent; I am with them on this. However, the system has broken down and sports has come to a hault for the most part.

Maybe by the time the state high school basketball tournament is over, this work stoppage will be history, and spring sports will be up and running. No doubt everything will be behind, and there will be a lot of catching up to do. I am sure there will have to be a lot of schedule rearranging, but it could come down to a complete collapse of high school sports in the state, and what a shame that would be.

I have always looked at spring sports as leading up to the end of another great school year. At the end of the year we have the softball and baseball tournaments and the state track meet. Some of the kids work their tails off the entire off season on these sports in order to achieve greater heights for themselves and their schools. Without practices, equipment, and facilities available – and some volunteers to keep the kids going – it’s not going to be a pretty picture. As of this writing, I don’t know what’s happening, but hopefully the kids have been practicing and all turns out well.

Why is it that so many people in the state government office can not sit down and work out a solution to a not-so-difficult problem? I really believe it’s self interest, greed, and being in the pockets of big business.

I saw where the state is paying to upgrade two office chambers at costs of nearly $900,000. Put a severance tax on the oil and gas industry, and use it for the teachers and PEIA; let’s get back to business. Quit spending money on everything, but that which really matters – the future of our children.

If this doesn’t get resolved soon, the problems will run deeper. Graduation ceremonies may even be affected. Scholarships could be lost, and peoples’ lives could be ruined. Another thing that bothers me is why those who have announced their candidacy have not spoken up on this subject.

In a normal school year, most kids learn new things, make new friends, grow into more responsible people and became better athletes. They all look for their summer vacations, or even just a break for a couple months. It’s usually an exciting time.

Time sure comes and goes quickly, just seems like football was here. I was thinking how fast a lifetime really passes by. In the Bible, James, says in Chapter 4, verse 14; For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. That is one of the most quoted passages in scripture and like all others very true.

As I went for a walk, up and down the streets of Paden City, the other night, I got to thinking of all the people who have passed on, and I tried to remember who lived where and when. There wasn’t a street I walked on that didn’t have someone missing, most had more than I could even remember. As I was trying to count them all, I would say to myself the names of the people I could remember; there were many I could visualize but couldn’t recall their names.

Trying to count them all, I lost track at around 1200, and I know there are many I missed. Just in my immediate family alone there are seven that’s passed on. One thing it did do was help me get through my first good walk of the year. Just like that, I had finished a 90 minute walk of about six miles; getting through the walk also seemed to go by quickly. I believe that’s the way life is! Stay busy, work hard, and life just passes you by.

I thought of all the great athletes and coaches that are no longer with us. I thought of many community leaders and former mayors. One of Paden City’s best ever football players, Alan Pryor, lost his beautiful wife recently. What a great couple they were. I’ll never forget, as a young boy, watching him run the football his senior year 1964. Alan would run right over you, and many called him the best ever at Paden City. It really saddened me to hear of the passing of his wife, Cathy. She was a beautiful person, and when she worked at the Giant Eagle, we shopped there; she was so friendly. She came from the Smittle family here in town, and her sister Pam was in my class. Her grandson Will Billeter, from St. Marys, is now a Mountaineer. I just wanted to say these are good people and I wish them the best.

Sitting at a Silver Knights basketball game the other night, I asked Dennis Strode if he thought his brother would get the win for County Commission. Sorry about that Scott; Dad got a kick out of it, but it sure made me feel old, as I’m three years older than your Dad. As I said, we lose track of time as it goes by so quickly.

Boys and girls, give it all you have, while you have it, because it will soon be gone. Play hard, study a lot, have fun, don’t stress, and don’t let anyone steal your glory. Satisfy yourself, that’s all you have to do. Play if you want to, and don’t if you don’t. It’s your life, and live it to the fullest. High School is one of the best times of your life; you’ll make lifetime friends, and you’ll more than likely have some not-so-good friends.

You may have heard it said that a person doesn’t really know who his friends are until the bottom drops out. I think there is a lot of truth to that. All of us have experienced the pain of discovering that people we thought would be our friends, no matter what, were simply “fair weather friends.” You know, friends whose loyalty hinges upon the climate or circumstances. As long as the relationship is enjoyable, they are with you all the way. But when it begins to demand some sacrifice on their part, they are hard to find. That just reminds me of this teacher strike, work stoppage, or whatever you want to call it. As long as you go along with the politicians, they will pretend to be your friends. Give them a difficult problem to solve, or even a not-so-difficult one, and they turn on you. The ultimate measure of friends is not where they stand in times of comfort or convenience, but where they they stand in times of challenge and controversy. Apart from that, we would never know who our faithful friends really are. I like the old song by Blood Sweat and Tears, “God Bless the Child,” it tells the story.

Our most valuable resource is our children; how can anyone put a price on them? If we don’t educate them properly, they will fail. If we don’t provide them with quality teachers, they will most likely fail, and if we don’t equip our teachers with the pay and benefits they deserve we have failed. It that simple! Why is it that there is money for everything but educators. There can be no greater investment.

Have you ever been hurt or depressed over a lack of someone’s respect, or criticism from some authority figure – or even a lack of friends; if so, here’s the answer. Don’t worry what others think or say about you; be kind, be happy, treat others with respect and be honest. Stay drug free, and don’t abuse substances. If you choose sports, keep a positive attitude and pay close attention to details. Study the game you play, and strive to be the best you can. Make your friends, family, and coaches and yourself proud.

Probably the best thing you can ever learn is discipline. Regular work habits come from discipline, and pacing yourself for the big cross country race of your lifetime takes discipline. A successful life without discipline is impossible. Tighten your belt; prepare your body, and get tough on yourself. To get there you need discipline, order and arrangement. If you examine the secret behind being a champion, you will discover the principle ingredient is invariably discipline. Setting a regular routine, and getting up at the same time, eating healthy, regular exercise all require discipline. You will only find excellence on the other side of hard work.

Another prized virtue of today, that has mostly been forgotten over time, is tolerance. Being tolerant of critics, tolerant of doubters, tolerant of crowds and tolerant of those who want you to fail. A couple things we should pay a little attention to today, and most don’t are comparison and rationalization. They sound good, and they sound American, but in reality they are hollow words with little meaning in the sports world. Never, ever compromise your standards. Your conscience won’t allow it. Keep your integrity and remain ethical. Pursue your dreams; it is a large task, but never give in.

One more thing, never underestimate the strength of your foe; however, never live in fear of him either. Gain confidence through discipline, and stand firm against other people’s doubts. Stay confident and disciplined. It is my intention here to set forth a way to produce individual and team winners. A lot of people look on the backward path; don’t do that; stay disciplined. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com