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The Press Box For Sept. 26

By Staff | Sep 26, 2018

Pressure is a privilege! One of the things I love most about sports is when everything on the line, the pressure at the foul line when the game’s hanging on that one shot a player has made hundreds of times. Or, consider the pressure of knocking the extra point through with the game tied as time has run out. Think of the pressure on the batter and the pitcher when the bases are loaded in the bottom of the ninth, the scores 3-2, with two outs and a full count.

It’s an amazing feeling when everything’s on the line, and you have to perform or you lose. Just having the opportunity to be in that position is a privilege. You become a better person from your participation; it’s a life experience that inspires others to overcome pressure and become better athletes and individuals. Here at the Wetzel-Tyler Newspapers, we are creating a list of what we believe are the best coaches and athletes to come out of this area over the years. We asked for input and participation from our readers, and many of you responded.

That alone tells me people still read the paper. Maybe it’s not like it use to be. Maybe you have other ways of getting your news, and that’s ok. Personally, I still like to read the newspaper; no, I don’t always agree with everything I read in every paper, but for the most part, it’s true. It has to be! In a couple weeks we are going to publish our results of the best athletes and coaches in Tyler and Wetzel counties; it won’t be what everyone wants, and there will be many that didn’t make the list. We know that, but we used what we had to make our decisions, and from the nearly 300 names that were submitted, it was very difficult to choose 25 of the greatest.

We worked together as a team on this, and we spent many hours researching and reading your nominations before coming up with the list. We are still not finished; however, it should be out in about two weeks. I looked at all the names of so many great athletes and coaches, and am amazed at some of the things they did under pressure. Just to name a few – I watched as Troy Cooper took over a basketball game against an undefeated Bramwell team in the state championships to give Coach Burton and Paden City a 27-0 record and state title.

I watched as many high school games were won and lost on last second plays and decisions.

I remember Ace Lyle leading Coach Henry Healy’s Wildcats to the championship in 1960. His pressure defense resulted in 11 steals in the game. I remember the time Richard Summers scored 70 points in a Sistersville High School basketball game. No pressure there for him, just shoot and score; however, there was lots of pressure on the defense.

Talk about pressure! How about the pressure coaches go through each week? It’s a pressure-filled world, but to rise above the occasion and come out on top – whether it’s in sports or the business world, it’s all part of the game and a privilege to have the opportunity.

Most jobs I have had over the years have been pressure filled, and they usually carry stress.

None of them, however, have been as pressure-filled as the newspaper business. I used to hate pressure, but now I kind of thrive on it. It’s like any other game; if you can beat the pressure and stress, you will come out a winner. You can’t please everyone, so I kind of like it, because as someone once said, “If they all love you, you might as well just be driving a Good Humor truck!”

This is not my first time in the newspaper business. I had aspirations as a youngster to become this great journalist. I saw an ad in the county paper and answered it. It was a business opportunity to become a newspaper sales and delivery person. They furnished you with a bag that you threw over your shoulder, sign-up sheets, and a collection tablet with reciepts. You, in reality, became a business man at the age of around 10. However it was a job in which the papers were delivered to your home and you went out, sold them and collected once a week, and you were allowed to keep your money. You then sent the companies theirs in a little brown envelope. It reminded me of the way some of these other papers today work.

You might remember the paper, if you are old enough; it was called the “Grit.” It was filled with news from all over the country, which kinda made it a hit. It just couldn’t replace the local news and soon died out.

My thoughts of going into the newspaper business were real, and after 30 years of working in the coal industry, I received the chance. For most people the hardest thing to do is block out the pressure to avoid the stress. I used to be that way, but over the years I’ve learned to handle both. They are somewhat related but are different in many ways. Pressure usually comes from the outside, while stress is from within. For example, someone or some faction may be applying pressure to you, but the stress it causes is within you. The solution to the situation is learning to cope with it.

I find it a privilege to work for the local newspaper. I hear all the time about the good and the bad, and I keep it to myself. Unless it is something I need to write about. Last week I sat in the local coffee shop all alone when I heard in a whisper, “No I just think I’ll keep my mouth shut.” Without ever hearing my name, I knew the pressure was on. Something I had written had hit a nerve. Should I get up and leave or hang around and take the heat? Well, I chose the latter; after all, it’s more fun that way, and you gain more respect than running.

“I think I’ll just keep my mouth shut.” I never was one to do that, especially if I’m offended. “It’s not even Biblical. Whatever it is, you should go to the person with your complaint and try to get it straightened out. The only thing to relieve pressure and stress is to face the opposition. The best way to heal is to have a little talk with Jesus.

I expect Bruce and I will receive some pressure over the choices we made about the 25 greatest athletes and the coaches we chose. However, it’s just like a good old fashioned argument. Not everyone will be happy; some won’t even care, and some will try and put the pressure on. Some will say you don’t know what you’re talking about, and others may agree we do. Just keep in mind: it’s our opinion based on facts, mostly from those submitted by our readers. It is not as the old saying goes, “Opinions are like, well, everyone has one.

I really enjoy watching athletes who perform well under pressure. I think it’s great that they have mentally prepared themselves to block everything out and perform at a high level. I also am impressed with coaches who take the heat from the sideline critics. Some have quit over criticism, but the best stay and work hard with the hand they’ve been dealt, all the time fighting the pressure and stress.

Standing at a local sporting event the other day, I heard an upset fan make a remark about the newspaper never covering high school sports. His son had just scored a touchdown, and he was sure no one saw it. Of course what really happened was no one saw the wide open hole he ran through. I turned to him and said, “I got a good picture of that, what a nice block.”

I asked a few kids this past week to name the coach they most admired. Guess what? They all had the same answer. The coach just happened to be the one most negatively talked about since I’ve been writing sports. I’m not a fan of gossip, although I do enjoy a good conversation when the air is thick. After all, that’s the best way to find a good story. The old saying goes, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

I think we have a lot of great ex-athletes and coaches from this area. To the guy who said, “I think I’ll just keep my mouth shut,” and to those who disagree with our 25 greatest athlete choices, you better turn up the pressure cooker, because were not leaving the kitchen. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com