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Thursday, March 22, 2018

Even near the end, it's just too early to call

View from the newsroom

By Kay Hoffer

Sports have never really been my thing. I ran long distance in junior high track, but lost interest when I completed my goal of winning — for a season.

Memories of basketball are less than favorable. After the noon hour recess I was generally left wondering why it was no one would pass me the ball. Of course it couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that I couldn’t dribble, throw or handle the orange circular object in any way, shape or fashion — let alone get the damn thing to go inside a basket.

Softball memories are even worse. I remember my one and only practice, (mind you, I was there because of a friend’s insistence that I join), swinging at the coach’s pitches what seemed like a million plus times and maybe hitting the ball half a dozen, probably less. I think even my friend lost interest in me joining after that stellar performance.

Chagrin — an athlete, clearly I was not.

Really my only enthusiasm for sports in my early years came from watching a classmate’s skill on the basketball court. I can still picture number 34 maneuvering her way down the court and ultimately driving in for a basket … again and again and again. Height didn’t matter much in her case — just sheer talent and desire, plain and simple, and no doubt a whole lot of practice.

Of course my older brother’s high school football career as a lineman for the Terry Terriers was another huge factor in my early sporting interest. Reflecting back the name Terry Terriers really doesn’t resonate much fear or intimidation — especially when you’re talking football. But in the mid to late 80’s the Terriers were a force to be reckoned with in Class C football. And Cole was part of it all. It was fun to watch, and fun to cheer them on. Memories of traveling to places like Ennis and Medicine Lake — the frigid temperatures — players, coaches and fans huddled in their respective circles attempting to stay warm in the sub-zero elements — will, I hope, forever remain etched in my mind.

One home game stands out clearly in my memory. It was a warm autumn day. By halftime the Terriers had earned an unmistakable lead. Seeing another game would surely be added to the win column for the mighty Terriers, I did what any typical junior high kid might do at halftime — walked home to entertain myself in some other fashion.

I distinctly remember standing in our kitchen later that afternoon as my brother walked through the front door.

“Good game, Cole!” I recall telling him enthusiastically.

His reply was less than affirming.

“What are you, some kind of comedian?!”

I’m pretty sure there was an expletive right before the word comedian. Either way, it was clear I had left the game too early.

And I guess that’s a point applicable for today.

Careless conclusions can make fools of us all, as I clearly demonstrated 20-plus years ago. Midway, three-quarters of the way, or even near the end — often it’s just too early to call. Whether it’s about a coach, a player, a game or even a season, it’s unwise to fixate on an opinion and get stuck there.

And besides there’s much more at stake than the win-loss record.

Ranger-Review reporter Kay Hoffer at news@rangerreview.com.

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