Archive for Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Stay classy, Basehor-Linwood

November 21, 2006

Most of my readers probably know that this will be my last column for the Sentinel.

I've accepted a full-time job in Olathe and by the time this is printed I'll have already started.

It's a great opportunity for me, but it will be a bittersweet transition. The people of Basehor welcomed me back so warmly after my illness and I'll never forget that.

Also, it's hard for me to leave now, because sports at Basehor-Linwood High School are suddenly taking off. In the next two years there should be a lot of teams vying for league championships and trips to state and I'm bummed that I'm going to miss it.

As these teams start to have more success, though, the temptation to showboat or act out is going to grow. One thing I hope won't change in the next few years is the high level of sportsmanship that has been a signature of the Bobcats.

With that in mind, I think it's important to point out a gutsy decision that BLHS soccer coach Kevin Vincent made.

It was the Bobcats' playoff opener against Eudora, the first soccer playoff game BLHS had ever hosted and a golden chance for the Bobcats to get their first playoff win.

There was a lot riding on the game and Vincent decided to bench Sam Seaman for the first half.

Seaman is undoubtedly one of Vincent's top players, first team all-Kaw Valley League as a sophomore and the heart of the BLHS defense. But he had earned a yellow card for using foul language in the previous game against Bonner Springs and, for Vincent, that just wasn't acceptable.

With Seaman out the Cardinals, who had won just four games all season, hung with the Bobcats and the score was 0-0 the entire half.

If Eudora had managed to steal a goal or two and somehow won the game, Vincent would have faced tremendous second-guessing. As it was, Seaman came on in the second half and played great, the Bobcats' offense exploded, and they won 6-0.

Because of the final result, Vincent's move was pretty much forgotten. But the message he sent to his players was clear: It doesn't matter who you are, or how big a game we have coming up, if you don't live up to our high standard of sportsmanship you will sit.

Now I hate to use Seaman as an example here. He's not a bad sport, he's just a fiery competitor whose emotions sometimes get the best of him (believe me, Sam, I understand -- I was the same way when I played and it occasionally got me into trouble).

I'm more trying to make a point about what an admirable decision this was on Vincent's part. I've seen a lot of players on other teams act much worse without their coaches handing down any consequences.

As the BLHS teams continue to get better, there's going to be a whole lot of big games and big emotions. It's my hope that the Bobcats will continue to play with class and integrity, otherwise no amount of trophies or medals will be worth it.

In the words of Mark 8:36, "What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul?"

My only other advice is for all the students at BLHS, whether they play sports or not: Get educated about meningitis and get vaccinated before you go to college. It is one of the few fatal illnesses that your age group is at risk for.

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