Column: As moments pass, cherish the time

It’s crazy to think back to last August when I was sitting inside Mama T’s on Newton Street with Jasper soccer coach Kyle Kendall, enjoying endless pasta and discussing Dubois County’s soccer scene.

It’s crazy because No. 1, the Mama T’s in Jasper is now closed — a travesty — despite its top-notch spaghetti sauce and second, well, where did the 10 months go?

When I began working at The Herald at the tail end of last summer, Sports Editor Brendan Perkins described a typical year in our three-man department as this: a wild, August-to-June flurry that will spit you out into summer exhausted and relatively perplexed, perhaps asking, Uh, what just happened?

OK, I may be overdramatizing it all a little, but I sit here in respite with a feeling not too far off course.

Things move oh so quickly.

Yet what I’ve found so enjoyable this last year, my first as a full-time writer, have been the chances to look back, to reflect on people, places and events I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, see and experience.

I’ve reread the story about the Jasper volleyball team’s miraculous regional comeback at Mount Vernon, Cody Moesner’s last-second shot to lift the Southridge basketball team over Crawford County, the Northeast Dubois boys and girls basketball teams’ emotional sectional coronations.

Each team, each player brought a story, and it’s tough not to become caught up in the hysteria.

And along those lines is where I’ve found the most gratification from the job. Herald writers are encouraged to look beyond the X’s and O’s and chronicle the faces, the personalities, the relationships.

Is it important to shed light on the gaudy scores posted by the Jasper girls golf team? Sure. But did you know that Emily Horney is nicknamed “Mahna Mahna” because she talks too much, Janelle Gore is a reckless golf cart driver and Annika Harmon does an incredibly realistic dinosaur impression?

“She tries,” teammate MeKenzie Hilsmeyer often said of her sophomore teammate.

But does she? Does anyone try to be as genuine, as authentic, as high school kids are? Every story seems so real, so unrehearsed.

On the field, Adam Braunecker netted goals aplenty for the Forest Park boys soccer team. He also turned out to be an adept barber when the Rangers received outlandish haircuts during their sectional title run. Teammate Sam Russell motivated teammates the way he saw most fitting — quoting SpongeBob SquarePants, of course.

“How tough am I? I ate a bowl of nails for breakfast this morning … without any milk,” Russell barked, gritting his teeth.

Is there anything more inspiring than referencing he who lives in a pineapple under the sea? I think not.

Becoming invested in those types of stories becomes infectious.

Witnessing success — Ross Fuhs’ first career win as Forest Park football coach, Kendyl Dearing and Victoria Schaefer’s four-year reign at Huntingburg Memorial Gym, the Heritage Hills boys basketball team’s comeback victory in its home opener — also makes a measly journalist feel good.

Yet without the people, the feats can become monotonous. Getting to know the faces, seeing the emotion, that’s where the fulfillment lies.

When Gary Ayer Jr., Haley Pierson and Morgan Schum choke up while retelling stories of the Patriots’ late diving coach, Gary Ayer Sr., you begin to realize that their success on the board is so much more than a set of numbers.

When the Forest Park soccer team allowed ailing Northeast Dubois senior Ashley Humbert to score a goal a month after her traumatic fall from a broken flight of stairs outside her home, you’re reminded that sometimes a final result is merely half the story.

The cache of moments seems packed to the brim, and it’s been less than a year.

Moving from Massachusetts without knowing anyone in Dubois County was a bit daunting at first. But the job entails interaction, which has in turn afforded plenty of opportunities to meet people and sometimes tell their stories. What’s become apparent is that most athletes are simply a reflection of the majority of folks I’ve met in the area: open, smiling and willing to spend a few minutes talking about pretty much anything.

As I biked by Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium on Monday and saw Tony Ahrens leading summer conditioning for Jasper’s football team, it became strangely disconcerting to think about the yearly cycle repeating itself. But it does.

People like Ben Weber, Amanda Jacob, Nick Gobert, Nicole Dodd and Hayli Scott eventually graduate, and a new wave of faces emerges. It all moves so fast.

So for now, I’ll take the summer to breathe a little, before the whirlwind picks up again.

Herald Sports Writer Joe Jasinski, who still reminisces about his first wurst platter at the Schnitzelbank, can be reached at 482-2626 ext. 120 or jjasinski@dcherald.com.




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