September 4, 2013 | LXXIII, No. 23

Smells like a locker room in here

Jess Shut Up

Do you smell that in the air? The smell of dirty sneakers and cleats, sweaty football pads and gym socks. Yep. High school and middle school fall sports is upon us. Parents will soon be finding the trail of backpacks, gear bags, sports shoes and water bottles leading to an exhausted child snoring on the couch.

This child will be roused just enough to eat, do some homework, take a shower, (hopefully) and crash into his or her bed only to do it again the following day. Parents will be begged for Gatorade, energy drinks, fruit, and pain pills as the season goes on.

The inevitable conversation will come up with the first-time Pirate footballers: “Mom/Dad, I don’t think I can do this; I wanna quit.” The parents will respond with, “You can’t quit, finish what you start, it will get better, trust us.” Guess what, after that first or second game, it will all be worth it. And IT IS!

Volleyball players will learn to love the sound of screeching sneakers, and the pain of court burns. Black and blue forearms will be a badge of coolness as the season progresses, and keeping score of how many times you hit an opponent with a spike and a teammate with a serve will give you bragging rights all year.

Oh yeah. The runners. Their sport is others’ punishment. They will be running all over Coulee Country trying to shave seconds off their best time — some eyeing a state championship, others just trying to survive it.

We must not forget the cheerleaders. Hours of chanting and dancing and pyramids. They bruise too, black eyes and sore tailbones Lost voices and cold cold weather. All to inspire the athletes on the field and arouse the butts in the stands.

Coaches that will put in hours viewing tapes, making lists, encouraging players, defusing parents and losing patience. Oh and they still have wives and lives to tend with. Kids will balance school, playbooks, friends and family. They will miss events for the mandatory practices and study hall. Athletic directors will break hearts and push for more success in the classroom. Bus drivers will find themselves the subject of roadtrips and see first hand the agony of defeat and the pride in winning.

The fans will come out and cheer for the kids they know, and while they do, be excited by a kid they don’t know. We will cheer, we will cry. We will win. We will lose. We will complain (we always do). We will celebrate.

Before we even get started, I want to thank all the coaches in Raider football, volleyball, cross country, Pirate football, volleyball and in Raider cheer. And to all the others behind the scenes and in the stands, thanks to you too. Support our kids in athletics and school and we will all succeed.

See ya at the game, and, oh yeah … HIT SOMEBODY!

•••

I wrote this column before hearing of the heartbreaking passing of Dakotah Holt. I seriously debated on rewriting this week’s Jess Shut Up to tell you some things about the young man I knew. But after a night of thinking about it, I decided that Dakotah would want this column to stay in here and motivate the Raider and Pirate athletes, not to mention the fans of these sports and athletes.

I had the privilege of helping coach Dakotah during football a few years back. He was one of those rare guys that knew he was not the best athlete out there, but he sure wanted to be. He would work hard, he was a good leader and he learned from his mistakes. He wanted to be a better teammate, player and leader and was always asking what he could do better. I think he carried that over to his life too.

He was carving out a good career for himself and really succeeding. He was liked by everyone that met him. Just go look at his Facebook page. God must have had some power lines down in heaven and needed a good lineman up there.

This column is dedicated to Dakotah Holt. He will have the power restored when we get there.

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