HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
March 12, 2006

The end is never any fun

By Matt Kane

The end has come for Delano’s winter athletes.

No more hockey. No more basketball. No more wrestling. No more swimming. No more dance. And no more gymnastics.

Until this coming November, that is.

That’s when the winter seasons for the 2007-08 high school year begin.

For any athlete, the final game of the season is always the worst, emotionally. Sure, in the middle of the schedule, heart-breaking, overtime losses pull at the tear ducts, but the realization that a respective season, and for some a high school career, is over is always the hardest pill to swallow.

As a three-sport athlete, I remember not wanting to leave the bench after the final horn, buzzer and out call were heard.

I specifically remember my final hockey game, a first round playoff game at rival Long Prairie-Grey Eagle.

I played my best game of the season, and maybe my statistics-thin high school career for Sauk Centre that day, scoring a rare goal, but it sure didn’t feel like I did much after the horn at the Todd County Fairgrounds arena sounded with my Mainstreeters trailing 3-2.

I sat on the ledge of the boards in disbelief for a good minute before stepping on the ice for the postgame handshakes.

In football, my career ended in one of those heart-breaking losses to Sartell, in almost a repeat of the loss which ended my junior season.

My exit from high school baseball was filled with disappointment. With maybe just as much talent as the previous year’s team, which finished second at state, my senior-year team was bumped from the playoffs, well before it should have been, by Pierz.

All three departures from each sport brought a few tears to my eyes.

In the last couple weeks, I’ve seen those same tears leave foreign locker rooms, trekking down the cheeks of Delano athletes after season-ending losses. Seniors, juniors, sophomores, and freshman, alike, are feeling the pain of losing, and I see that as a good thing, as I’m sure most coaches do.

Taking losses hard means the athlete cares, and, for those returning next season, it means they want to finish better. I heard evidence of this during interviews with several athletes in the past weeks.

After Cody Socher’s junior wrestling season came to an end March 3 at the state tournament, he didn’t dwell too much on the end of the season, but looked forward to next season.

“I’m fired up and I’m ready to go,” he said, just minutes after his fifth place win. “I want next year to be here, now.”

His teammate, freshman Dalton Sowers, reacted the same way, saying, “I look to place higher every year, and my overall goal is to win the state tournament.”

This past Tuesday, the Tiger girls’ basketball team was eliminated from the playoffs by Norwood-Young America.

After stating her displeasure for how her Delano team played, junior point guard Cody Krieg spoke with a glass-half-full attitude.

“Even when there were 30 seconds left, people were still going after steals and going for lay-ups. We have a lot of heart, and I think that will carry over into next year,” Krieg said. “We aren’t losing anyone, and all of us have played together since sixth grade, so next year should be a good year, too.”

Next year will, indeed, be a good year for all the winter teams, whether they win every game or lose every game.

It will just take a decade after graduation to realize it.

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