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COLUMN: That's a wrap for fall sports

| November 16, 2022 12:00 AM

Wow! Can it really be three sports seasons have sped by in my retirement days of writing for the Valley Press and Mineral Independent?

As of this past Saturday evening, volleyball state titles have been decided and only football championship games remain to be contested, games that will be played this weekend.

Saturday evening the last of the teams from Sanders or Mineral county wrapped up their seasons with appearances in the state B and C volleyball tournaments. The Thompson Falls Lady Hawks were the last to be eliminated from their title chase in the Class B volleyball tournament.

No football teams from either county made it to the championship rounds, with the aspirations of post-season entrants Hot Springs, Noxon and Superior all put to rest in early rounds of play.

And you know, once again the Big Fella here is sad.

Over the past three years I’ve gotten to know lots of students athletes at the schools I cover in the bi-county area, and occasionally beyond those boundaries. I made the trip two years ago to watch Superior play in the state B-8 championship game at Rocky Mountain College in Billings.

And this past year I went to the B-C Track and Field state championships in Great Falls.

Along the way I’ve been to a lot of regular season tournaments and regular season games in the whole gauntlet of high school sports. I’ve also attended many District and Divisional competitions in Ronan and Frenchtown.

In all, with the new addition of Alberton, I will have at least 14 teams to keep track of during any one season, and am trying to add more by covering cross country running, tennis, golf and wrestling.

It has been a dream come true for me. More than anything in my working life, I wanted to be a sports writer. More money and exciting opportunities and technology diverted me to 40-plus years in Radiology, but the dream of covering sports events never dimmed.

So when the chance to live that dream was made possible by my current employers I set about doing what I could to create the best small-town sports coverage around.

Each year I’ve come to know some really awesome young people, many of whom blow away the myth that small towns like Plains, Hot Springs, St. Regis and others can’t produce quality players and teams.

You parents out there can be proud of these young folks, not just for their abilities to pass and catch a ball or other physical feats, but for their overall character, the likes of which seems to be in dwindling supply in so many parts of this great nation.

They have all been polite, focused and most of all happy to be involved in sports.

When I coached years ago in Seattle, the first thing I would ask a new team at the first practice is “what’s the number one rule of this sport?” The ones who had been there the year before would all blurt out the answer, “have fun”.

10-4 Eleanor. Roger that!!

You can get good, win some games and still have fun.

And the beauty of that is I haven’t met a coach around here who doesn’t understand that basic principal.

My role in all of this is way more than giving me a part-time job or helping me realize a dream. Not even on the list.

I do what I do because I want these kids to have some recognition for what they do in a world where retreating behind a computer screen is all too common. I want grandparents to have something to clip for the scrapbooks they keep.

And with the number of teams I have to keep track of, I rely on coaches, school staff, parents and some times the players themselves to help me out.

In the coming weeks, I will be sending out team questionnaires to all the schools in my coverage area. I’ve done it every year and always received solid feedback from coaches on pre-season stories, games played and other sports-related things.

I know I can be a pain in the tush to coaches and administrators with my nagging for game stats and results, but I can say with all honesty that it is for the kids.

Coaches, my motives are true...if you get a questionnaire from me, please take a few minutes to fill it out and send it back. I try to keep them brief. And if during the season you have stories about your players, fans and fellow coaches, let me know.

I would ask the same of all fans and players.

Send me schedules and let me know if you can of any changes you hear about. If I make a mistake, let me know, nothing hurts me more than spelling someone’s name wrong or mixing up a stat they may have earned.

If you take a good picture, send it in, we can’t pay for them but it might get published with your name attached.

My email is: cbandel@vp-mi.com

I will take this information and do my best to create a really quality sports section for as long as I am able.

This is my dream. I ain’t gonna mess it up!!

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