As our local high school basketball seasons have all come to an end, I have done a lot of reflecting, as I always do. I find it very remarkable what our kids along this stretch of Eastern Montana highway have been able to accomplish.
They say that our communities are shrinking away and the numbers have forced many schools, families and communities to make tough decisions based on what is best for them individually. I know that this can cause some hard feelings and friction between communities but if we all try to look at these tough decisions from a proactive view and see it as dedication, fight and determination to keep the opportunities alive for all our kids regardless of numbers, it doesn’t have to be so tough. Sometimes that takes a lot of maturity as there are many deep rivalries within these communities.
We live in an ever changing world today with technology and social media being more of a social norm than the face to face interaction that many of us have grown up with. Although it is so convenient to be able to find, talk, or text to pretty much anyone at the touch of a button, there are many downfalls in this as well. The ability to post, tweet, snapchat or text at the drop of a hat seems to often times remove a barrier that face to face interaction has. I feel it is the responsibility of parents, teachers, coaches and community members to show them what is and isn’t appropriate use of social media. As adults we have all probably fallen into the “trap” a time or two ourselves, but hopefully we have been able to climb out and rise above it all.
Returning from the State tournament, it never ceases to amaze me the amount of following and support our teams are given season after season in these Hi-Line communities. I grew up in Western Montana and always felt like we had great support, but it is nothing like what our kids in Eastern Montana are blessed with.
That being said, sometimes I think our actions and emotions can get the best of us. It is very easy to get caught up in the action during those big games and we all can forget that it really is just a game and these athletes are still just kids, putting forth their best efforts to fight for the Win at the end of the night. It is also only human nature to jump to the defense of our own teams and individuals if we feel they are being treated unfairly, but it is also important to acknowledge the idea that there are two sides to every situation.
I’ve read before that there are four roles at every athletic event that you go to, and it has always made sense to me: “player, coach, spectator or official, your job is to choose one role and stick with it.” Although easier said than done, maybe if we can keep reminding ourselves of these things we can all begin to focus on all the positives around us.
I am one of the most competitive people around and I hate to lose, but I do know that losing is part of life and what you choose to do with those lessons can take you farther down the road if you handle them correctly. I feel blessed to be able to have the role of the coach, and it isn’t something I take for granted. I love everything about the game of basketball, and it is my passion. I try to coach and treat every one of my players the way I treat my own kids, and I do love each of them as if they are my own.
So in closing I just want to say Congrats to all the teams and communities: Glasgow, Hinsdale, Saco, Whitewater and Malta on amazing seasons and reaching that ultimate goal of State. It takes a lot of hard work to get there and even more to bring home hardware. I hope everyone realizes just how special it is for every athlete, parent, coach, fan and community!
Amber Erickson is head coach of the Saco-Whitewater girls basketball team.