School sports and extracurricular activities — not just fun and games

By Piper Banning

Piper BanningIt was a hard season for the Badger baseball team, with more than half the team graduating last year. The Badger team of 2023 started playing together in the fifth grade. They were cohesive. They were a team. It’s like they were one; a band of brothers.

2024 though, was a rebuilding year, a time for the Badgers to get to know one another, to learn what each player brought to the field, to learning how to mesh. Although some of last year’s team was there this year as seniors to lead the team, it wasn’t the same.

This was a hard season for those who played last year, who know what it’s like to be part of a well-oiled machine, every cam and gear and cog in synch. It was fun to play. The Badger seniors on the field this season had a cadre of seniors to look up to and learn from last year. This season they were themselves the cadre the younger players looked up to, but they didn’t have the numbers nor the experience that comes from long familiarity.

This was a hard season for the coaches, who had to dig down to the fundamentals, the basics. To dig down and create new relationship with new players and new friends. They have all the elements, but much of the heart of the team graduated last year, and the heart is always the last part of the team to fall into place because it is built on the trust that forms as all the other elements come together.

It was a hard year for Badger fans, who still came to cheer even though many of the familiar players and families had gone, but knowing their support and encouragement was as essential to team building as coaching and camaraderie.

My brother, Teigan, is one of those Badger players who graduated last year, and watching him watch “his” Badgers this year, I realize that watching a building year might just be toughest on those who’ve had their day, but had moved on.

“This year was a work in progress,” Teigan said at a recent game. “There is a lot of potential for this next year, and in another year, we’ll have a good year for baseball.”

I could see that he would have loved to have been out on that field, helping his Badgers, but that he knew he’d had his time.

In the years since his first day in kindergarten, meeting and taking the field with teammates just met in the fifth grade who would become something more than friends, to stand together with them on the field after that last high school game as a team, as Badgers, he’d been laying the foundation for everything that he is to become. Baseball is part of who he is. It’s not just a game, it’s a metaphor for all that is to be.

He can never go back, but at the same time, he, and the teammates he graduated with can never not be Badgers.

This story can be told of every sport and program we’re afforded as students in Boundary County School District 101; football, robotics, volleyball, drama, cross country, FFA, wrestling, basketball, Honor Society, track, softball, band …

Baseball … it’s not just a game, it’s a brotherhood. High school extracurricular activities … high school sports … yeah. Just more fun and games.