A NEW BEGINNING, WEBSTER COUNTY — The drive to Blue Hill from the north is uniquely Nebraskan.
Heading south from Hastings it’s subtle hills and farm ground. Enough hills — actually — that you hit “one bar” country for most of the trip.
Reception still isn’t optimal when you make the right on Gage Street of US 281 and head for downtown. But, last Friday it was that last left turn — on to Liberty Street right before you hit the business district — that a sense of fun and calm hit you.
Football was in the air.
To most of us on the sidelines — snapping photos, shooting video, keeping stats — and extended to the players and coaches there was almost a sense of relief. To do something we loved, in front of people who loved us back.
Football matters. Sports matter.
And, so it didn’t so much matter that Cross County looked the part of a D-1 title contender on August 21st in their 70-12 win over Blue Hill. It mattered that we were all together cheering on our boys.
Or writing about them. Or chopping video highlights to give you on the television. Or calling the play-by-play so someone who couldn’t make it would get that feeling of being there too.
No one knows how much football — or volleyball, or softball, or cross country, or golf, or tennis — we’ll get this fall. But, we should do our best to cherish it. We should do the right thing to make sure we stay as healthy as we can. We should be, simply, good citizens wishing the best for everyone.
As for us, we are ready to tell stories again. The good and the heartbreaking. The lessons learned and the lives that are impacted. The players who gave it their all and the coaches who made better men and women.
Let’s remember that this fall. That sports are a privilege and not a right. That we should be fortunate to compete and to learn about life through them. That it’s not about the next level, but the present and the memories it will give you.
So as you pack up your stuff to watch your son or daughter this fall, do one thing. Enjoy it. Soak it in. Say thank you to a coach or mentor who has helped them get better. And when it’s over, give them a hug.
Because, as a storyteller, we can tell you one thing. The joy is not in the end result, the joy is in the journey and the memories. Let’s go make as many as we can.