Tenth of a point — Kudos to coaches

By Travis Sherer

I try not to write columns about controversial topics, unless truly warranted. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the idea of getting somebody’s blood boiling with a scathing column — in fact, I consider it a talent that I’m proud of.

But outside of the Archbishop Murphy football fiasco of 2007, there isn’t any reason to attempt such an undertaking when dealing with high school kids. The way I see it, all kids should get the chance to be kids, especially in a world where they have to start growing up earlier — and finish growing up later — with every passing generation.

That being said, I want to spend the next few hundred words offering kudos to Lakewood coaches Jeremiah Wohlgemuth and Dan Teeter. In the face of losing significant parts of their teams due to violations of team and school rules, these two coaches handled the situation as well as anyone.

Wohlgemuth, the girls soccer coach, had to get his team ready to play the day after the decision to suspend his players was handed down. He literally didn’t have a player to use on his bench against a Sehome team that could tire out the Jackson boys cross country team. Nevertheless, he and his 11 remaining players held a team that scored 68 goals in 16 games to just one goal. That would have been an accomplishment at full strength. It was also in the face of a pressure-packed, winner-to-state match.

What’s more is that the Cougars ended up making the state tournament four nights later using the same strategy to maximize their chances on offense and instead use most of their energy thwarting the other team’s opportunities to score.

While Teeter, the Cougars’ football coach, didn’t have the same success in a losing effort to Bellingham Nov. 5, his accomplishment might have been more difficult. Lakewood was basically playing a game for pride in a situation where it faced a 2A cross-over, winner- and loser-out game.

It has got to be hard enough to motivate teenagers to play a game with no impact on the season, but Teeter also lost more than a dozen of his players — many of them starters.

What I saw in Lakewood’s stadium did not resemble what I pictured a depleted team that has been eliminated from postseason play. I saw kids having fun trying to run a single-wing offense. They worked just as hard as if it were a playoff game.

I’m not the type that falls for those sappy stories where everyone is a winner for trying, but I do think there is something to be said for a group of kids that put forth their best effort in the face of overwhelming adversity — and the coaches that teach where integrity comes from.

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