• Clear eyes, full hearts
    March 01,2014
     

    Williamstown’s high school sports teams have become both the envy and the angst of many central Vermonters.

    It is unusual, with generations of long-standing rivalries crisscrossing our region, for a varsity team to capture the attention of the community at large, and Williamstown finds itself with two. Any way you look at it, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

    Williamstown’s undefeated streak is being discussed at sporting events and gatherings across the region. It is the topic (outside of Williamstown) people have come to hate. And while it is easy to trash talk, and point to other schools’ successes in the past, it cannot be denied: The Blue Devils are running the table.

    Teams have forfeited prior to games — raising a pre-emptive white flag. On the court, the Blue Devils are relentless. In the stands, their fans are passionate.

    The opposition has, frankly, had enough.

    For many of them, the fear and loathing of the Blue Devils began in the youth leagues and has only deepened with each passing year.

    Whether that is petty or poor sportsmanship is a debate for another day; the talent emanating from Williamstown cannot be denied, and natural talent is not enough. It takes excellent coaching to focus it, manage personalities and motivate their players for every game — big or small. Throw in the support of a tight-knit community that has suffered at the other side of these rivalries many times over, then sit back and enjoy the ride.

    This is the Blue Devils’ time. There are really no other local schools in their division that can give them a run for the money. So as the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them.”

    We are all talking about the streak.

    As adults we know seasons like this are special. We have won some and lost some — but to stay at the top for any length of time is to be savored. These student-athletes have known little else.

    Being at the top is fleeting. This group will move on and, hopefully, go on to even bigger and better things after high school. Whatever the teams’ wins or losses next year, it won’t be exactly the same — it never is.

    That is the beauty of high school sports. The players change. The families change. Every school gets its turn. Even as Williamstown sets the bar higher, its success is inspiring others to work harder.

    Now in the heat of the tournaments, we watch and celebrate and eagerly anticipate the next game. It is difficult to set ego aside to root for the other guy. But these kids, some whose names will be spoken as legends for decades to come, deserve our admiration and pride. They deserve our attention and continued support, whether it is at the games, or offering a thumbs up or a congratulatory pat on the back.

    These are times when we already have enough to worry about. This is the time we can come together and celebrate as a community.

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