“Let’s win this game for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here” Merle – from the movie Hoosiers.
Glen Lake, Brethren, Beal City, Lake City, and Burt Lake. These are just a few of small towns, with small schools where in small gyms I’ve watch my boys play high school basketball for Northern Michigan Christian School in McBain.
Both my wife and I graduated from Class A schools. These programs had professional coaches, trainers, future Division I and NBA players,1000’s of spectators, pep bands, cheerleaders and dance teams.
Big school basketball also includes things like tryouts (including “cuts”), single sport specialists, and year around training and contracted individualized coaching.
So our first introduction to small town basketball was a very different experience.
When I’m at a game someone will ask “how’s it going?” I always answer “Great. There is nowhere else I’d rather be on a winter Friday evening in Northern Michigan.”
This is an honest answer. I’ve grown to appreciate small school basketball.
Here are a few reasons why.
It’s a common occurrence for me to talk to a grandfather who played for the school team sitting next to his son who also played for the school and are watching their grandson/son play.
The coaches are parents or “sons” of the community who coach for the love of the game, school and players.
Our son Mitch plays on the JV team and represents the type of student who plays for these schools.
He’s on the soccer, track and Quiz Bowl teams and has one of the leads in the play. Yes he is a talented kid. But in a small school not only can students participate in most things; the school needs them to.
Mitch also knows most of the people in the stands and they know him. This creates a personal connection between the fans, the players, the coaches and the school.
So like in Hoosiers our car is part of the line of vehicles making the road trip each week to some small village where we cheer on our team to victory.
And yes, there is nothing else I’d rather be doing on a winter evening in Northern Michigan.