When I was in high school I went out for football. To be a starter all I had to do was beat out Art Branstatter. Since I was 6’ tall and weighed 141 pounds I had my work cut out for me. Also, Art was All State, a High School All-American, and 6 years later the Captain of Michigan States football team. After an honest appraisal of my chances, I decided to be a wrestler instead.
Now being a wrestler in the Lansing area [I went to East Lansing] wasn’t a bad deal. We usually had a pretty good turnout at meets. The problem was that in wrestling they didn’t divide things up by the size of your school. East Lansing with 700 students [class B] wrestled Lansing Sexton with thousands and Lansing Eastern which also had a gazillion
students. None the less, we usually had a couple of State Champs.
Because of that experience I developed an affinity for some of the lesser
known sports. Their participants work just as hard to compete as the football and basketball players, they just don’t get the recognition they deserve.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as proud as anyone else that Clare’s football won the Jackpine Conference. If you saw the picture of that Harrell kid running back a kickoff in the mud and pouring rain you know they deserve all the praise they’re getting. However…
I want to recognize the Clare boys Cross Country team who also are Champs. Not just champions, but Jack Pine Conference champions for the 5th time in a row! Now that’s an accomplishment. That’s a record that Vince Lombardi would approve of.
Clare High School also has an equestrian team. These are kids who compete riding horses. They are also the State Division B Champions.
Yes, that’s STATE CHAMPIONS! Not bad coming from a town with
3900 people. About the size of Lansing Eastern back in the day. [See the
wrestlers lament above]
In the interest of full disclosure, daughter Marcy was on the Michigan State University equestrian team. I do have a particular affection for those teams.
A team that never got enough recognition was the State Champion Harrison Ski Team of a few years back. Skiing is one of those expensive sports that usually seem to be dominated by Bloomfield Hills, Traverse City, or some other affluent school system. Maybe that’s why I got so much pleasure out of Harrison beating teams who’s members go to Aspen or Vail on Christmas break. They weren’t rich, but they had
the eye of the tiger. Late congratulations, Champs.
So here’s to all the kids that compete out of the spotlight, but win Championships just as important and just as difficult as the bigger
and better known sports. We’re proud of you. You’re going to take away some good memories of high school sports that you’ll enjoy forever.