David Pressgrove:It feels like the first time
Aaron Kawcak hadn’t put on shin guards for at least four years. Jake Bilodeau was too big not to think about football. Amber Suits had never had an opportunity to run cross country.
The three are side notes of Moffat County athletics this fall. They are the kind of side notes that help keep the Bulldog tradition of successful athletics alive.
The beauty of high school sports is that you don’t have to play a sport for a lifetime to have an impact.
All three of the athletes — two seniors and one junior — are out for a sport for the first time this year. They may be a little raw in technique or experience but the teams wouldn’t be at the same level without them.
Bilodeau thought about playing football as a junior but decided to stick with soccer. As a starting defender last year, he helped the soccer team make it to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. During the summer, Bilodeau went to camp with the football team and is now a two-way starter on the line. His presence has been huge because at least two linemen the Bulldogs were counting on didn’t play.
Kawcak filled Bilodeau’s vacated spot on the soccer team. He’s still learning the game, but his aggressiveness has helped the Bulldog defense keep games close. The team is in position to make the playoffs for consecutive years for the first time. Kawcak also decided he wanted to try diving last year. He steadily improved and was one high-scoring dive away from qualifying for state.
The Hayden High School track record board is filled with Amber Suits’ name. She enrolled at Moffat County High School this year and joined the cross country team to help her track times. Now you can add cross country runner to her running resume. She has steadily improved and was the team’s second finisher last weekend. In practice, she has started to move up to challenge the Bulldogs fabulous frosh Alicia Nelson.
This column isn’t meant to take away from student athletes who work hard from second grade on in their sport. Bilodeau is no Derek Duran and Kawcak is no Schuyler Hammond, but I commend them for taking a chance.
It’s too often that something a coach said in fifth grade, a lack of playing time in seventh grade or some other seemingly insignificant event deters an athlete from ever trying a sport again.
Deciding in sixth or seventh grade that someone isn’t athletically inclined is so limiting. We all went through growth spurts and the awkward stages after them.
This goes back to the column about the unfortunate truth of the need for cuts. I am a believer that there is a healthy event out there for everybody. Suits, Kawcak and Bilodeau aren’t the only ones who ventured to try a new activity, but they are the best examples I can think of this fall.
I can also think of athletes who should be out there who aren’t. I wonder if in 10 years they’ll look back and say, “Man, I’m really glad I decided to do nothing in high school instead of …”
How many of those people were back for homecoming? Probably not too many, because doing nothing usually doesn’t create fond memories.
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