I'll bet it was a lot of fun coming to school Monday morning at Maryville and Stanberry High School.
Winning state championships has that effect on the school day. I'm not sure, but my grandson, Jacob, who attends Stanberry, tells me it was the first state football championship for the Bulldogs. The Spoofhounds claimed their third title.
I think sometimes we take the winning ways in Maryville for granted. The football team in Stanberry and their coach, Dan Collins, just accomplished something never done before. Matt Webb, the first year coach at Maryville, was part of something that has occurred less than 3% of the time.
I don't think football tradition was always prevalent in Maryville. The original Spoofhounds was a football team being compared to lazy carnival dogs.
For a long time, the heroics of the Maryville senior class or the over 200 yards gained by a sophomore running back will be fresh in our minds. Stanberry will remember the quarterback that had his thumb in a cast until the end of the season.
We think we will never forget the 63 first half points the Bulldogs posted or the Hounds stopping a running back near the goal line that may someday star for Ohio State.
However, as time fades, the team itself will be remembered more than the individual accomplishments.
Twenty-five years from now, the players that showed up for practice every day, banged pads with the best players in Missouri, and saw very little playing time will be just as important team member as the all-staters. Where would those all-staters be if they didn't have competition every day in practice?
Would those teams have been state champs if the players that spent most of their time on the sideline had whined and moaned about their situation? There are many parts to a state championship. The most visible are easy to follow as we replay the broadcast of the games. The less apparent will become more important as time goes by.
I know this for a fact. Twenty-nine years ago, I was lucky enough to coach a state championship basketball team. Fifty-four years ago, I was an eight year old kid that idolized the high school basketball that had a perfect season. There are two individuals I have recently became re-acquainted that prove that everyone has a role in championships.
Tom Heller was a good football player on his six-man football team. He was one of the best defenders on team with a 6 – 3 record. That was pretty amazing since it marked the first year of football at Clatonia High School in Nebraska.
Tom played basketball, too. Mostly he practiced. For a little town, the talent was pretty amazing. Eleven high school kids in 1958 would go on to play college basketball. Tom was not one of those.
Page 2 of 2 - When I talked to him about it, he admitted he might not had made the team if not Marvin Wilkinson had decided not to play. Tom took a huge amount of punishment during practices under a demanding coach and talented first team. In the final game, a 15-point win in the state championship game, Tom made a brief appearance.
The picture that was taken outside the locker room now proudly hangs from a wall in his house. It hangs on the wall of all 10 players. No one knows the stars; they just know that those 10 kids couldn't be beaten.
Amy Altman was a reserve guard on my team. Her younger brothers were great high school players.
One brother, Dana, is now the head coach at Oregon. Amy could really shoot the basketball, but very seldom saw playing time. Amy just couldn't run. She had something wrong with her legs that deprived her of the family athleticism.
One summer day, she came up to me and wanted to know if I wanted her to quit. She knew she wouldn't play and she was unselfish enough to give up her uniform to a younger player. I told her she had a role. Someone had to control the bench. We wouldn't win championship with bickering about playing time. I told her the championship medal would mean as much to her as to the stars of the team.
That team was recognized by the Nebraska High School Hall of Fame twenty-five years later. Amy was there with most of her teammates. I'm not always right, just ask my family. But I was right about Amy.
She meant a lot to the team and the team meant a lot to her.
Years from now, that same feeling will be experienced by everyone on the Maryville and Stanberry championship teams. They will realize that everyone had a role.