The makings of a championship team

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 9, 2004

Rick Couch/Demopolis Times writer

So it all comes down to today. By 9:30 p.m. there will be two new state champions in Class 1-A and Class 4-A. One side will be at an all time high and the other will be left to regroup for next year.

No matter what the results of today’s matches are, all four teams should keep one thing in mind. They have made the ultimate sacrifice to accomplish what hundreds of other schools in the state could not do.

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So what goes into a championship season? What sets these athletes apart from the rest? It is a long and trying process.

It all starts with the first taste of football in the spring of the year. Many times in Alabama when teams suit up for spring training conditions are still damp and cold. It is miserable. There is nothing fun about spring training no matter how you present it. But still, the players show up everyday. They know it will pay off in the end.

When the pads are put away after spring the next step is August and preseason training. If you have ever strapped on the pads in August in south Alabama you know exactly what that means.

It is basically like wrapping up in a blanket and going for a jog in an oven. In order to make it through you have to have a winning attitude. Ordinary people aren’t geared to survive it. But day in day out these students show up. They know it will pay off in the end.

Along with physical sacrifices come personal sacrifices. From August until December these students have put off dates with girlfriends, nights out with friends, hunting trips and a host of other opportunities to watch film and practice. They watched as other students headed home at 3 p.m. everyday to do whatever they chose to do. Often, the players didn’t make it home until late in the afternoon. Then it was time for homework and academics. Being a student athlete is a full time job and it is not an easy one. But these student athletes kept after it. Again, they knew it would pay off in the end.

So today all the hard work comes to a head. All the blood, sweat and tears for the last year will be left to dry until the spring. We ask only one thing of those participating in today’s championship games. No matter what the outcome is, remember, you are not a typical student. The sacrifices you have made to get to this point have won you the respect of your peers and your community. It’s just like the late Paul “Bear” Bryant used to tell his players, “You aren’t ordinary. You are special and don’t you ever forget that.”

Good luck and keep pushing forward.