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Classy in defeat
Sports Editor It still pains me to talk about it.
Even nearly 19 years after Joe Carter hit a walk-off home run off of Mitch Williams to end the 1993 World Series and send the Phillies to a crushing defeat, the highlights remain difficult to watch.
But Williams earned a lot of respect that night in Toronto being a stand-up person by sitting at his locker and taking every single question from reporters.
That hasn’t been forgotten.
In my mind, neither will the fact that Manheim Central’s softball players, still emotional in the immediate aftermath of losing to Valley View on Monday in the PIAA State playoff semi-finals, graciously answered questions from myself and Dave Byrne, of the Lancaster Intel.
Dave and I requested to speak with senior catcher Katie VanBlargan, junior first baseman Rachel Clippinger and junior pitcher Sara McKee and they showed a lot of class. But I have no doubt that the other players would have also. After all, Alexa Campbell and Sam Ginder were just as classy after Central lost in the State finals last June.
To be honest, I was dreading the thought of Manheim Central losing Monday night when Valley View went in front 1-0 in the sixth inning. As reporters, we are trained to be objective, but quite frankly, we too enjoy the journey that our high school teams provide us, and as we get to know the players and coaches, there’s a big part inside of us that root for them. The other thing was, I know it can’t be easy for teenagers to put aside their emotions and talk so quickly after a loss with such high stakes. But again, they handled it like champs.
Even after all my years of lugging around my tape recorder, it still doesn’t come easy for me to approach the kids after a tough loss. My first instinct is to give them their space, as I did last November when Warwick’s field hockey team lost to Hempfield in the State finals.
If I hadn’t known the error of my ways, it quickly became very apparent when my editor Andy Fasnacht gave me a look of disbelief when we talked about the game a couple of days later. Sheepishly, I got on the phone with senior Emma Rissinger, who as expected was wonderful.
On Tuesday morning, as I discussed the previous night’s events with Steve Seeber while driving to the office, it became apparent to someone who wasn’t even there that Manheim Central is well coached.
It was head coach Steve Ginder and assistant Tim Proffitt who were right there for us asking us which players we wanted to talk as they gathered their equipment after the game.
"That’s part of it — I told them, win or lose, they talk," Ginder said. "That’s part of life."
Honestly, that is a great perspective. Too many times, there are negative aspects of youth sports that overshadow the positives. But it is times such as that which should be brought to the forefront. Let’s face it, the percentage of athletes who receive a paycheck to play sports for a living is not very high. At some point, the wins and losses don’t matter as much as the relationships you built, the memories and the lessons you took away from sports.
With two children of my own now playing sports, hopefully that is something that they come to understand as well.
Having said that, I tip my hat to the Manheim Central girls for an incredible run. Their one burning goal was to get back to the State finals and take advantage of their second chance after losing to Valley 3-1 for the PIAA gold medal in 2011.
But that’s not an easy thing to do. Using the NFL as an example, the last time a Super Bowl runner-up came back to win the big game the following year was way back in 1973, when the Miami Dolphins bounced back from a loss to the Dallas Cowboys in ’72 to defeat the Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII.
The Central girls, who put together a 25-game winning streak, almost did it. And they should hold their heads high. More CLASSY, page B-4