For a sports fan, there’s nothing more exciting than rooting for your team. We cheer the home run, the touchdown and that long 3-point shot. We wear our team jerseys and hats with pride and circle the date on our calendars to make sure we don’t miss the next game.
And in their purest form, sports are not just simple athletic competitions. They teach us teamwork, leadership, physical fitness, discipline and so much more.
Unfortunately, sports on a national scale aren’t always so pure. Often, far from it. What we root for on the field is too often eclipsed by scandals, protests and, perhaps above all, money. To say that pro sports in particular is filled with prima donnas and not as many team players might be an understatement.
But lately, we’ve been reminded of the kinds of positive impacts sports can have in a community such as Frederick. If you haven’t taken the time to watch young children or teens play sports for the pure enjoyment of it, you’re missing something special.
This week, for instance, we’ve been fortunate to follow Frederick National as it tries to win the Maryland State Little League Tournament, which is being held right here at home at Robert B. Staley Stadium. If the local team captures the title, it’ll be Frederick National’s first since 1998.
This squad of 10- to 12-year-old all-stars — assembled mere weeks ago after the Little League regular season — has come together quickly to put itself in position to achieve something many young ballplayers only dream about.
Thursday night, Frederick National had a disappointing loss to Fruitland, but it plays again Friday night in hopes of continuing its quest for the state championship.
Then there’s the story of Saylor Poffenbarger, the Middletown High School rising junior who committed to play basketball for the University of Connecticut, a perennial women’s college basketball powerhouse that owns the most national championships (11) in NCAA Division I women’s history.
For Saylor, who had more than 30 offers from other colleges to play basketball, committing to the Huskies was a dream come true. Playing at UConn has been a lifelong goal, and she worked hard to get there. For those who have had the pleasure of watching her play, it was another reason to cheer — few Frederick County student-athletes have ever received such an impressive recruitment.
Of course, we’d be remiss to not mention scores of other young athletes that compete in Frederick County throughout the year. From the numerous high school state champs to the hundreds of other boys and girls who participate in sports from the early instructional leagues to the high school varsity level and into the collegiate ranks.
We know that not everyone will grow up to be a Branden Kline, the standout pitcher from Gov. Thomas Johnson High who has been coming out of the bullpen this season for the Baltimore Orioles. But that’s OK. We shouldn’t always value sports solely in terms of on-field success.
Like the old saying goes, “It’s not whether you win or lose. It’s how you play the game.”
Around here, even during the summer months when fewer teams are in action and many athletes are in preparation or maintenance modes, there continue to be impressive local sports stories to celebrate.
They deserve our attention and our cheers.