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It’s all the small moments

It’s a toss up. On the one hand, the sports department has long been considered the playground of the newspaper. As sports guys, we get to wear shorts to work, have more flexibility with the use of our time and – well, let’s face it – we get to cover fun stuff.

The other side of the flipped coin is the crummy hours.



We don’t work the normal 9-to-5 shift. When the rest of the world is heading home, we’re on our way to work. A well-known, but little-thought-about fact is that sporting events are almost all at night.




Oh well. Whatcha gonna do?

It’s probably safe to say that most of us wouldn’t trade it for the world. Even if we sometimes hear the song of normalcy calling – beckoning even – like a lithe siren luring us to the rocks of regular lifestyles, we all know that after spending time in the playground, we’re not fit for the regular workplace.

But why do it?

Well, the more well heeled of us get some of the best seats at the best games. We get to see inside a glamorous world that most people will never glimpse.

That’s the more well heeled though, and there aren’t that many in our ranks. Most of us in the sports world labor in small markets, small towns – communities like ours.

What’s the attraction?

Fair enough question. There isn’t the draw of the bright lights and big fields, but there is the draw of the little moments and the small heroes.

These are things we can all look at and be proud of too. These our the kids of Nevada County working hard and learning that hard work can pay off.

There’s a lot to be said for that.

There’s a lot of people to thank for that too. Start with the coaches. They’re out on the courts, fields and slopes every day – usually after a full day at work. Talk about crummy hours.

One thing I can tell you, it’s not the money. Prep coaches, like those of us here in the playground, aren’t hauling in truckloads of money. For them, like most of us, it’s about the kids.

“I don’t know,” said NU snowboard coach Samson Smith recently. “It’s a lot of fun. We have a good time.”

There’s no better way to say it than that. It’s just a lot of fun to see kids learning and growing as individuals. And there’s no place where it’s more obvious than on the playing field. This is where life is distilled to some poignant truths.

In a game with two teams, there’s only one that will leave with the win. That’s the headline. It’s a 50-50 shot at glory.

But between the lines, there are no losers on the playing field – as long as you play with integrity and leave it all out there. Coaches like Bear RIver’s Duwaine Ganskie and Jack McCrory, or NU’s Craig Strohm, to name a few, have been quietly teaching this for years.

And guess what? Kids have listened. Kids that have gone away to college, found wives and careers and then come back to alumni games to hit the court one more time and thank their old coaches.

That’s what it’s all about here at the playground. It’s not Michael’s comeback, Tiger’s dominance, or the Kings making a playoff run. Those are great, but next year or next decade they won’t matter.

What will matter is that another generation of kids will have grown to be bigger, better people. They will have learned to be winners even if the scoreboard doesn’t reflect it.

And that’s worth more than a pile of flipped coins or a stack of Michael Jordan rookie cards.

Shawn Swillinger is sports editor at The Union. He can be reached at 477-4240.


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