From the Sidelines Jeremy D. Smith

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Paying homage to Seniors

Friday marks a milestone day for an impressive senior class. This particular graduating class boasts a remarkable number of student-athletes who possess sterling personalities and tremendous character. It is unfortunate that some will likely choose to measure the group&8217;s success by the number of championship banners it earned, the number of wins it accumulated or even the numbers typically considered indicative of academic achievement.

While the importance of these things should not be altogether discounted, the success of this particular class should be measured by immeasurable achievements.

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For instance, the senior football players were asked to not only adjust to a new coaching staff, its schemes and its principals, but to embrace them enough to become an example for younger players who would be looking to them for leadership. Not only did this group reach that goal, it did so well enough to put together a successful season and make a playoff run.

A similar task was cast upon the six seniors of the Demopolis High baseball program. The group was asked to not only embrace a new staff and its methods, but to take the reigns of its squad and expect more for itself than had previously been asked.

Following a slow start, those players faced the whispers that questioned its ability and fortitude. Then, something happened, and the season began to turn around. That accomplishment came, in large part, due to the seniors and their newly emerging leadership. Before anyone really realized it, the team began to show some of the potential that had long lied dormant, running into the second round of the playoffs before falling a few runs shy of extending the season another week.

Their classmates on the softball team did not face the challenge of adapting to a new coaching staff. Nonetheless, it was called upon to lead a team that offered few question marks. In some ways, their burden, one of high expectations, was greater than that which their male counterparts endured. And, with a grace that vastly exceeded their exceptional talent, the ladies fought through the highs and lows of their season before a few runs proved the obstacle between them and their state tournament aspirations.

The athletes of the DHS class of 2008 were called upon for much and did little, if anything, short of giving their all in response. While their careers may not be chronicled with fanfare and the traditional pomp and circumstance which follows such greatness, these young men and women displayed an uncanny resolve that will not only serve them well as they face new challenges, but has made an unmistakably positive impact on the programs they leave.

In the end, theirs it not a legacy that can be so succinctly recounted by the brevity of a banner on an outfield fence or in a gym rafter. Rather, pieces of it will linger in every practice, weight training session, conditioning exercise. Like the stroke of a pen, more of their contributions will be told with every base hit, free throw and touchdown that is to come.

Jeremy D. Smith is sports editor for The Times. Reach him at (334) 289-4017.