Maybe we just need to learn a lesson from our diamond players
When I arrived at the office on Sunday, my plans for this space were simple.I was going to try to make some sense out of the last week in national news and to plead for some sanity.I awoke on Friday morning with absolutely no hope as I watched people on social media line up on two sides of a one-sided issue, which for me is these senseless killings that took place in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas are deplorable.But I’m wimping out. Nothing I write here or on Facebook is going to change anyone’s opinion, and leave it at this: Until we as a society start really trying to understand the “other side,” we’re probably doomed.Maybe, just maybe, we need to take a lesson taught to us from two teams filled with teenagers right here in New Hampton.This edition of the Tribune heads to press — if I make deadline, of course — eight hours before the Chickasaw softball team takes to the field for its Class 3A regional softball final with Benton.New Hampton is a decided underdog. Benton Community came into Monday’s game with a 39-2 record and the state’s No. 1 ranking. The Bobcats also owned an early-season 12-0 win over the Chickasaws.Decided underdog may be understating it a bit.But no matter what happened Monday night, this New Hampton softball team represents all that is right with high school sports.In short, they stuck together.In mid-June, New Hampton lost 11 straight games, nine of them to ranked teams. How easy would it have been for the Chickasaws to start pointing fingers or just play out the string?Trust me, I’ve been covering high school sports for the better part of 30 years, and I’ve seen it happen countless times.Yet, here are the Chickasaws, as I write this, one game — yes one monumental upset — away from going to the state tournament.Going into Monday night’s game, New Hampton had won nine of 10 games, and the only loss in the bunch — a 12-9 extra-inning affair to North Fayette Valley — has been avenged not once but twice.They, in short, did not throw in the proverbial towel when so many other teams would have; instead, this group of Chickasaws picked themselves out of the dirt, dusted themselves off and came back with a vengeance.That makes them winners — victorious or not against Benton.On the other side of Mikkelson Park is another team that has given their fans a special season.New Hampton’s baseball team begins postseason play tonight [Tuesday] with a 27-4 record and the state’s No. 3 ranking.If few expected the girls to be playing for a trip to the state tournament, most expect the boys to be doing just that a week from tonight.This team has been dominating, to say the least. It has scored 335 runs and given up just 125. It won its second straight outright Northeast Iowa Conference championship.But if there is a moment that crystalized this team this season it came on Friday night when first baseman Noah Hopp couldn’t dig a low throw from Trevor Ambrose out of the dirt.Hopp chased the ball down and as he returned to the infield, he tapped his chest and I heard him say, “That’s on me, Trevor.”How easy would it be to point a finger there? Again, after 30 years of doing this, I’ve seen it countless times.Sports is supposed to teach us that someone has our back, and these two Chickasaw teams have learned that lesson so well.If the adults of the world would take a deep breath and realize that we need to take each other’s backs as well as these baseball and softball players do, maybe, just maybe, we wouldn’t be talking about Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas.Then again, maybe it’s all a pipe dream.But today, I’m going to latch onto that dream and enjoy the ride that these 30 teenagers have given us.