One thing I’ve never been short of is school spirit. Throughout my life I’ve been raised to root for my teams, good or bad. Coming from Idaho State University, I had a fair share of years where some of the sports teams were irrelevant. Women’s basketball won the Big Sky tournament one of my last years there, the men’s team always seemed to be competitive beating bigger schools like Utah and rivals like Weber State when Damian Lillard (now a top ten point guard in the NBA) played for the Wildcats.
My father told me when I was young to stick to my teams no matter what. I experienced a year or two where I would root for teams with cool jerseys in the NFL, mainly the Titans, Buccaneers, Raiders and Dolphins. People reading this need to know those teams were actually really good when I was growing up. Now they are teams fighting for the top pick in the draft. After realizing I needed to stick with one team I went to the Miami Dolphins. The only reason I have is because of the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective where Jim Carrey tries to save Snowflake, the Dolphins mascot, from a derranged ex-kicker for the Dolphins. Regardless of how it happened, I haven’t left their side since. By the title of my column I’m sure you know where this is heading. Regardless of how good or how bad a certain sport club is doing, that shouldn’t change how many people are in the stands at games. It also starts at a young age, teaching kids the same way my dad taught me, to cheer for your team whether they are losing by 20 or are ahead by a field goal. Having the opportunity to coach the seventh grade boy’s basketball team this year, I’ve got to put my footprint on the youth which will hopefully give them a boost going into high school. We went to Marsh Valley last week to play and the eighth graders there formed a student section taking up half of the bleachers. They were loud and involved the whole game, making it difficult for our guys to function properly. Watching these kids play, I honestly believe we can be relevant in basketball in the near future but it starts with the parents and friends of these young men. My 7th graders have went toe-to-toe with Snake River, Marsh Valley and Bear Lake for three hard quarters and one quarter has been the difference in the game. This is their first year playing together while those other teams have programs that have them playing together for multiple years before they get to that point. Some of these kids will eventually move on to wrestling or decide sports isn’t for them but the kids in that age group show tons of untapped potential, we just need someone to tap into it. Kids at that age absorb information like sponges when done properly. When I was their age, we had camps every other week of the summer we would go to. The high school would host camps at the middle school to teach fundamentals and rules, Idaho State had “Bengal Buddies” which they still do and many others. I reported on a story earlier this week regarding a senior project looking to put up new full-sized basketball courts at Lee St. Park and renovate the tennis courts over by the intermediate school. Those kids have a plan and in my opinion it looks like it can help jump start a basketball program that has been lacking the tools other sports have had for the past 10 to 20 years. Other sports like wrestling, soccer, golf, track, cross country and football have been a silver lining to this story and I am proud of those athletes for representing American Falls at state and district. Like I said earlier, those sports all have facilities and areas to do those sports. There will always be off years but not having anyone go to state in basketball for around two decades isn’t an off year and it’s something that needs to change. I believe we are heading in the right direction but it’s up to us as a community to make sure those steps keep moving forward.
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