By DYLAN MALONE
Winning is everything to the student/athletes who partake in high school sports. For all athletes who play the games the main goal SHOULD be to win but something about high schoolers and in many cases the college level makes it seem that much more prideful when the stakes are high. Maybe it’s the higher chance of failure from players who are not professional status. Maybe since at the high school level and in college towns the fans are that much more prideful.
No, what I think makes the high school game better than professional sports is that innocence from the players. That honesty on the field. They’re not playing for money or bigger contracts. They’re playing for pride.
But is too much success in a sports program a bad thing?
When both Adams Central and Bellmont advanced to the regional volleyball level, I really took notice to the buzz surrounding the accomplishment. Teams can go for years without a sectional title, decades even. When it comes to volleyball, one need not look very far to find an example as the South Adams Starfires put their hearts into a match in sectionals against Churubusco. While spectators would say “They’re no Bellmont” or “That’s a young team,” what they should be saying is, “Wow. They have some good fans.”
The quietest sectional in Indiana last week had to be at Norwell. With the home team out and a traveled Mississinewa squad playing in front of a few parents who wouldn’t miss their kids play for the world, it was Bellmont’s gym to fill…but they didn’t.
I blame the success.
Adams Central won their first sectional title since 2008. I love all three county schools and I enjoy covering all three as often as I can. Without bias I can honestly say that AC has the fan-base thing down…the last few seasons at least.
Before you grab your pitchforks, Bellmont fans, here me out.
The Squaws took their eighth straight sectional title and I’m sure that when coach Krull got to Bellmont and they began winning, it was a sight to see. The fans abounded as far as the bleachers would allow. Did anyone know that Bellmont was not just the best team in the sectionals but the #2-ranked team in the state at the 3A level this season? I’m sure the parents did.
My point is that maybe the Squaws have been too successful. There’s no other explanation I can think of. Why else would a school full of pride for wrestling and a recently solid football team fail to show up for a volleyball team that has been just as successful?
Volleyball is no boring sport. A contingency of students rarely shows up to a cross country, golf, or swimming meet (no offense) simply because there really isn’t a lot to cheer for until the finish line or 18th hole.
The girls laid their bodies on the court all season long to get the stellar record they accomplished and on most nights there was hardly anyone around to notice. When the students did show up they were usually gone by the third game. Why? The Squaws usually routed their opponents.
In 31 matches this season Bellmont lost 14 sets. That’s staggering. Less than a set lost per two matches counting the times Bellmont was defeated this year. 24 of their wins this year were sweeps. An impressive run witnessed by few.
When the AC boys basketball program started last season there was a buzz in the air because there was no doubt that the talented squad would make some noise around the region and they did not disappoint. They even topped Luers on their way to a sectional title win.
Standing room only.
Loyal AC fans can tell you it’s been a long time coming. There was even an “O-fer” season thrown in there. When the Jets started winning, the Hangar Bay doors were swung open and the fans emerged seemingly out of the woodwork.
As sad as it is, Bellmont may need to lose a few times in the coming seasons to get that energy back. I hope that next season I’m proven wrong, particularly since next year’s squad can only get better returning virtually everyone from this year’s sectional champion team.
Am I saying that Bellmont should tank a season or two? Most definitely not. I hope that they can create a buzz once again and bring some pride back to the fan base for crying out loud.
The same thing will happen to the Braves’ basketball program if they start winning again. With wins come the fans!!! But, if the Squaws’ volleyball team is any indication, hopefully not TOO many wins.