Monday a week ago was my first official day at The Observer after a year a half covering news for our sister paper The Herald Independent in Winnsboro. As I get into the swing of things (prior to The Herald, I covered news for a few years for the now defunct Whitmire News), it’s special to be coming home.
Sometimes as an observer, life can surprise you in unexpected ways. That happened to me as I was shooting photos at the Newberry Middle/Mid-Carolina Middle School Basketball game. I arrived for the second half of the girls game.
By then Newberry held a commanding lead in what would become an undefeated season for the Lady Tigers.
As the game wound down, I heard someone from the front row cheering for MCMS. He got my attention because the polo shirt he was wearing said Newberry High School Athletics. As some fans on the MCMS side were calling for the girls to shoot and shoot some more, he commented how they needed to just let the girls play.
“That play was the best spacing and offensive set they ran all game,” he said.
The shot missed but I had to admit he was right. The girls ran the offense and moved the ball.
He wanted the fans to give the girls encouragement in a way that allowed them to learn to play the game.
Granted the outcome was well decided by then, but it was refreshing in today’s society where Little League games and middle school games are televised and some parents doubtless can spout of statistics about how well their child(ren) are playing in that league, that a coach would be cheering for all the players in a game, not just the ones from his school.
If I pulled out an old yearbook, I could tell you how many games the Mid-Carolina Junior High Team won back in 1991 when I was there, but I don’t carry that team’s stats around in my head. I am a sports fan and it’s fun to cover games but I doubt I could tell you who won the NCAA basketball championships for the last three years.
I can tell you about coaches I’m a fan of, though. Some coaches at all levels can either come across and arrogant and full of themselves to the media, or turn out to actually be wired that way. But others really are coaching because they love the game and the youth that play it.
Is that a rarer breed to find? Perhaps.
But think back to the game of basketball itself. John Naismith invented the game at a YMCA to give youth a new form of physical fitness activity. Once holes were cut into the bottom of peach baskets he used for goals, the game grew and became more popular than he likely could have dreamed.
But organized basketball started, and remains at its core, a game to get youth active and along the way to teach work ethic, life lessons and the values of sportsmanship.
Thanks, Coach Chad Cary, for reminding fans to keep the game in perspective and for supporting all the athletes in this community. I have a hunch Naismith is looking down and smiling.
Kevin Boozer is a staff writer for The Newberry Observer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.