I'll have to admit, it was a tough chore finding the perfect opening lyrics to this year's Best of IHSAA Awards column. What could get you, the reader, ready for a 7,000 word year-of recap? What would get me, the writer, motivated and ready to tap out character after character into my favorite column of the year? Most importantly, what could get me in the mindset to avoid pointing out that to be a future State champion in both Class 5A and 6A football, you only have to be better than 31 other teams in Indiana?
So after YouTubing (that's actually a word these days) multiple songs and scouring through the most motivating lyrics of our time, I came across the perfect lines to get our engines rolling. And then like 2011 Columbus East Regional champion and soon to be Notre Dame Freshman Gunner Kiel, I changed my mind. Over, and over, and over again, until I came across this gem.
"I ain't gotta brag, I let the trophys do it. Around here we the best, so come and hold me too it. I specialize in everything that can't be done, ain't no more talking about it. Momement of silence for the champions."
- Ron Artest, 2010 NBA Champion and lyrical genius.
Here we are three years into my tenure at WXIN/Fox59 Sports/IndySportsNation, and at this point I can officially say I could not have been any luckier to start out my broadcasting career in the heart of the Hoosierland here in Central Indiana. Often when I tell people that the majority of my coverage is prep sports in this area, they respond with "Well I'm sure you'll work your way up one day", as if being under the Friday night lights is a bad thing. Honestly, I have to chuckle back and hold in my inner-thoughts. Do you know the chills that run up your spine when you see an athlete break a 37-year old record held by national running icon Rudy Chapa? Or how great it feels to be young again when you're amassed in a student section going crazy when their school upsets the number-three ranked team in the nation for a State title? Or if you happen to watch "Football Friday Night", I guess I could respond asking if they've ever been carried by students wearing a pig suit?
Okay, maybe that doesn't quite help my cause.
But across every sport, from the basketball courts to the wrestling mats to the green soccer fields, the high school athletes of Central Indiana bust their rear-ends year in and year out, putting together some of the more exciting athletic performances that you will find anywhere. Thankfully I can say that in 2011-2012 it was no different, and for the most part, I was there for the majority of some of the most memorable IHSAA performances in the history of the organization.
It has been fun, exciting, exhilirating, and it maybe hard to believe, but most of the moments came from kids just as old or younger than this Reggie Miller commercial. _________________________________________
For us here at WXIN Fox59 Sports, the high school season began the very first Monday that football practices were allowed across the state on August 1st. If you might happen to recall, the sun was hot enough to cook a five-egg omelette on the ground, and news sources across the state were covering the "It's way too hot to have your kid playing sports" stories left and right. Apparently, those stories aren't exactly the favorite type of news angle that any high school coach enjoys. At any school.
I found this out the hard way after asking Hamilton Southeastern Head Coach Scott May a question about the conditions outside, and his response his paraphrased, but the frustration in his remarks can still be understood word for word.
"Do you not understand how badly these kids want to work," asked a disgruntled May. "We have a weight room with a broken air-conditioner and I had over 100 kids in there all summer long lifting weights for non-mandatory sessions. We make sure to take our breaks, we make sure to give them water, we have fans on the side to cool them down, but these kids want to be out here getting better."
With those words set the tone for the entire school year. Why do athletes put themselves in position to work hard in conditions most people wouldn't walk their dogs in? Why would they push themselves in sprints until they nearly vomit, push up a dumbbell for an extra set with shaky arms that are about to crumble, or swim one more lap as their bodies are exhausted to the point their teammates pull them out of the pool?
Because they want to be the best they can be and leave their everlasting mark on their school, county, and state. When the lights are off they are practicing their craft want to become the ones with the blue ribbons around their neck, the Indiana-shaped plaque in their hands, and the ever-lasting glory that comes with being a State champion. This column/story/blog is for those who got to ride across their town on top of a firetruck, who's lasting images will be stil remembered from their town-folk fifty years past their youth, and the athletes that made an impact on the 2011-2012 season in a special way.
So with that said, ladies and gentlemen, drum-roll please: Introducing the third-annual Fox59 Sports Best of IHSAA Awards.
(The winner gets a nice pat on the back and the realization that on Twitter you are completely rocking #SWAG. In return, we hope to one day pick up a college program from an event, and in the winner's biography section it states "In 2012, Yogi Ferrell won a Best of Fox 59 Sports IHSAA award." After covering every significant Park Tudor basketball game over the past three years, it's all we can ask for Yogi. It's the small things in life.)
The Most Captivating Basketball Story In The State Of Indiana That Got More Coverage Than The Playoff-Bound Pacers Award (Best Overall Story) - Park Tudor's Yogi Ferrell and the Movement
The Michael Jordan Shot Over Craig Ehlo Award (Best Moment That Didn't Lead To A State Championship) - Hamilton Southeastern's Gary Harris Jr.