PUBLISHERS NOTEBOOK: Glory days don't have to end
Wednesday, March 05, 2014 8:23 AM
It's been a good school year for area students competing in extracurricular activities at our local schools. Chatfield has two champion teams in football and wrestling along with a state champion wrestler in individual competition.
Fillmore Central's volleyball team took second in the state last fall while several cross country runners from throughout the area advanced to state competition.
Wrestlers from each of the programs our newspapers cover also advanced to state recently with Niko Anderson of Lanesboro winning a title in addition to Hank Friederichs of Chatfield.
Basketball isn't over yet and there are still teams in our area playing for a chance to advance to the prized state tournament in March.
The accomplishments aren't just on the playing fields. Rushford-Peterson's one-act play advanced to state judging, which resulted in fan buses and quite a bit of interest in the community.
Fillmore Central students Nick Powell participated in all-state symphonic band and Morgan Malley performed in all-state orchestra, the highest honors high school musicians can receive in the state.
Local FFA teams are again having great years with several students participating in national competition and one, Lanesboro's dairy judging team, even qualifying for international competition.
Many people think the academic or arts achievements are more important than the athletic achievements, and I would tend to agree. However, the support is much more noticeable for sports teams when measured by attendance, so they tend to get the attention.
I've always wondered if, even at the high school level, that attention to athletes is detrimental - that it could lead to a false sense of privilege or a sense of accomplishment that will never be equaled.
Do these high school heroes end up like the characters in the Bruce Springsteen song "Glory Days," where the once star athlete frequents a bar "sitting back trying to recapture a little of the glory?" As time slips away from them, are they left with nothing "but boring stories of glory days," as Springsteen sings.
Rushford High School graduates showed that just isn't the case. They met for a reunion last month 25 years after they won the state championship in basketball in 1989.
Chris Hallum, a player on the team and now mayor of Rushford, collected surveys for our newspaper that expressed some of the memories of the players and noted what they are doing now.
All of them appear to be successful, whether it is in or near their hometown, or in California, where Brian Helleland is an executive of St. Jude Medical Center, or on the other coast in New York City's Manhattan, where Mark Schober is a science teacher and head of science at Trinity School.
Other occupations include roles such as doctor, grocery store owner, manager for a state program, farmer and operations manager for a medical facility.
They have all moved on to better things, but they also kept their special memories of this chapter in their lives.
As Dana Grimsrud wrote in his survey, "The best memory for me was looking into the crowd near the end of the championship game and seeing the pure joy and excitement of my parents, all the great Rushford fans, all the players' parents, mentors, and former Rushford players and coaches who influenced me greatly."
That is a memory few students will ever get to create as it takes a special talent along with the right circumstances and right combination to win it all, or even get in a position to win it all. Those who are fortunate enough to experience this should look on it as not a crowning achievement of their lives, but a stepping-stone to greater things.
The "glory" is fun now and fans should take time to enjoy the accomplishments of these young people, whether they are athletes, or, especially so, if they are students succeeding in the fine arts or academics. Yet, we need to remind them there is more glory to come in their lives if they work hard, cooperate with the members of their new "teams" and continue to strive for excellence even if there isn't a state championship trophy waiting to reward them.