Sportsmanship alive and well in Chugiak-Eagle River
Last year about this time, the Anchorage School District was considering eliminating middle school sports as a cost-saving measure. The outcry it caused was enough for the district to reconsider, then ditch the idea, and as a parent of a middle-school athlete, I was greatly relieved. Sports teach our children so much more than just competition, and nowhere else was this more evident than at the middle-school ski races held at Mirror Lake Middle School on Feb. 1.
I was helping the Eagle River Nordic Ski Club, who helped put on the race, record bib numbers for the skiers as they came in during the all-middle-school race. The sixth- and seventh-grade boys were the last cluster of kids to leave in interval starts, and the winds picked up, blowing snow sideways. The blustery weather forced all of the skiers who had finished onto their buses or into the school, and only a handful of race officials and ski team members were left on the field.
There was one boy still out on the course, though, and we waited as he struggled through the worsening trail conditions to complete his race. I couldn’t see him from where I waited at the finish line, but all of a sudden, a large cluster of Gruening Middle School skiers, wearing their light-blue team sweats and waiting near the top of a hill, began cheering. They jumped up and down and encouraged that skier – fellow Gruening student Joseph Townsend, to the end. For the last 50 yards, those kids ran alongside Joseph, encouraging him to the finish line. At the end, they exchanged high-fives and congratulated their teammate.
This was the best example of sportsmanship I have seen in a long time, and my congratulations go out to Gruening’s students and coaches – and Joseph Townsend – for exemplifying such remarkable team spirit.
That’s what sports is all about, and I’m proud to say it’s alive and well in our community.
~ Melissa DeVaughn Hall