I’ve been meaning to write something about what we just witnessed with this football run here in 2022; but it’s taken me longer to come up with the words than I thought it would. But allow me some latitude as I try and go through what we just saw and experienced.
From the week #1 win against Iron Mountain, I think we all had a feeling this could be a special season as far as wins and losses go – and we were right! 13 – 1 matches the best record in program history. Think about that for a moment….
BUT…little did we know how special this group was going to be as young men, and the lessons we would learn from them; instead of what they might learn from us as adults.
I think we can all learn a lesson on handling the task at hand from this group. Gregg Nelson said it more than once during our broadcasts that this team won the games 52-0 against the teams that they should have beaten 52-0. Meaning: This team went in to games they knew they were going to win and still made it a point to play their very best. They didn’t win sloppy, phoning in the result and moving on. No, they were focused on every play of every game and the scoreboard showed the results. Something as “grown ups” we forget every now and then.
We learned that sometimes you just need to control the things you can control and not worry about…cold. Not worry about snow storms. (Hell, BLIZZARDS!!!) Not worry about inches of rain falling in your District Championship against Menominee. Play the cards you’re dealt and go from there. Had the cold nights and the blinding snow and the rain been an issue for these guys, Ford Field would have been off the table. Control the things you have control over, and don’t worry about the noise. Good lesson!
This team taught us that it’s OK to grieve and still do what needs to get done. I lost three classmates while I was in high school, so I know well the pain felt when this team woke up on a Friday morning to the news of that tragic accident that took Addison from them. Again, the focus. We’re all still grieving over this as a community, and this team taught us to grieve and celebrate at the same time. Both can be accomplished, if we let it happen.
We were reminded the power of working together, doing your part and celebrating the success of everyone’s efforts. Players as happy for the other guy having success as they were proud of their own. I’ve been in sportscasting since 1983, and I’ve never watched a sideline like that we saw with The Negaunee Miners this year! The high fives, helmet slaps and mud diving were fun and refreshing to see.
I could go on, but as you can see it was indeed a very special season. It was nice for this old guy to be reminded that there are many more good kids than bad, and that the reputation of teenagers is sadly because the few and not the many.
I will leave the players with one thing I do hope they remember for a while. Do NOT, I repeat do NOT make this your best moment. It’s a great moment, a great season surrounded by an awesome community. But you still have years ahead of you for even better things. You’ll own businesses, become husbands and fathers, run for office; who knows with this group. Always remember this amazing time, but use it as a step stool to reach even higher moving forward!
Thanks for allowing Gregg and me to share your journey, it was indeed an honor! Like Gregg, I’m very proud to be called “The Voice of Negaunee Football”.
Mark Evans – WKQS Radio