Big moments that helped shape 2017

I’ve never been a fan of lists.

Amid the chaos of traveling between the eastern and western borders of the state this past week for holiday basketball tournaments, I recapped the 2017 sports highlights between my ears.

Memories flooded my brain, and I experienced information overload.

I have no idea how many stories I wrote this past year, but it has to be, at the very least, around 300.

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In past years, we’ve gone over the coaching changes, sectional and conference titles, individual accomplishments and the like in the paper as a wrap-up.

This year, I decided to try something a little different.

I have a hard time ranking one event over another and don’t think it’s fair to say one accomplishment outweighs another.

At a site I used to write for, they (still) pushed making lists. I’ve always felt like that’s click-bait.

Rather than creating a top-10, I’ve decided to briefly recap three of my favorite stories that I was involved in during the 2017 sports seasons.

These were stories that not only changed those involved, but also myself as a person.

I will never, ever, forget Crothersville High School’s first-ever sectional victory.

A century in the making, that story will live on for generations.

On the morning of Feb. 4, I set out for Jeffersonville High School to cover regional wrestling. Seymour was in the mix, and I was also double-covering the event for The Republic.

Once the final results came in, I conducted interviews and finished up The Republic’s story for their Sunday paper. After packing up, I ventured through the dark straight to Orleans High School.

You know the story, so I will leave the broader details out.

In my short career in this business, I haven’t experienced anything like that game that took place between Crothersville and West Washington.

I’ve covered a lot of games in a short amount of time, but this one was other-worldly.

It was so much more than a game.

Once the final horn sounded, I walked down the step to the court and sat in a chair next to coach Kevin Hensley. It was just Kevin and I on the sideline, in those chairs, while (seemingly) the entirety of Crothersville celebrated on the court.

Kevin collected himself, and shared his disbelief of the moment: The surreal nature of the task accomplished, and just how much it meant to the community.

I didn’t sleep that night.

I got back to the office around 12:30 a.m., after going to Crothersville High School for a rally, and feverishly typed up everything I saw while guzzling cups of coffee.

The next day, after stepping away for a few hours, I reworked the story and column and made sure it was as perfect as I could.

That entire experience, from start to finish, is something I’m thankful that I got to be a part of.

Another basketball team, and its community, touched me this past spring.

St. John’s Sauers Lutheran School — which, at the time had 118 total kids at the school — won the 2017 Lutheran Basketball Association of America’s National Championship in March.

I don’t remember who alerted me, but I received a message in the middle of the night saying that the Raiders had been crowned top in the country and were on their way home.

I dropped everything, ran over to work to get a camera and notepad, and trekked out to the school.

I remember that around 100 people waited outside in the cold for the team to get back with its escort.

When the team finally emerged from its van, and the trophy was hoisted into the night air, the crowd exploded.

The ensuing blue and white fireworks, which illuminated the church and gymnasium, was a moment that just seemed to stop in time.

It’s one of those times when you know you’re a part of a special moment, and don’t want to forget a single detail of what took place.

One of the coolest facets of sports is how it can bring people together, and I think both CHS and Sauers did that.

The final story I would like to highlight is more recent: The creation of the Seymour Athletics Hall of Fame.

Working with administrators at the school, I gained a greater appreciation for some of the top athletes to ever go through the ranks in this county.

I got to meet up with a handful of the living legends — outside of a handful I already knew — at the recent inauguration.

A quote from athletic director Kirk Manns really stuck with me with this one.

“I think a lot of schools do a really good job of celebrating the present, but I think all schools need to do a better job of celebrating the past,” Manns said. “We want athletes to have a better understanding of the history and traditions that have come before them.”

While both Crothersville and Sauers were in the moment-type stories, this one regarded both the current and past.

I have a strong opinion that it’s important to live in the moment.

However, it’s equally important to stay humble and thankful to those who paved the way before us.

What Seymour did by starting a hall of fame was the right thing to do, and now those former athletes are immortalized for future generations to appreciate.

There are plenty of stories that were memorable to me from 2017, and I apologize if I left one of your favorites off the list.

These three struck me most because they exemplify the best that can come out of sport: working together and achieving a common goal.

I’m looking forward to the New Year, and the stories to come.

I think 2018 is going to be one to remember.