There was a high school volleyball game in Sleepy Eye last Thursday. The Knights and the Indians faced off in a crosstown rivalry. A team won, and a team lost. But that’s not the story. There is something more to it that goes way  beyond the stats and final score. Something you only see at the high school level.
In the days of overpaid and prima donna athletes, something gets lost in the world of sports. When money and fame become part of the game, it corrupts the true beauty of it. Yes, professional sports are fun to watch and I love to watch almost all of them, but there is something special about high school sports that just can’t be matched in any other level. Athletes simply playing for the love of the game. Not a paycheck.
There was a volleyball game last Thursday in Sleepy Eye. It wasn’t played in a fancy arena or stadium. The highlights weren’t shown on ESPN. But if you were lucky to be there that night, you got to witness the true beauty of sports.
The combination of all the players playing their hearts out for the game they love, along with their friends, family and community members in the stands, makes high school sports stand alone.
The atmosphere at that volleyball game was incredible. As an athlete, you live to play in games like that and that was one game they will never forget.
I missed sports before, but after witnessing that game between the Knights and the Indians, I miss it even more.
I miss being able to run on that court in front of family and friends. I miss going to battle with my brothers. I miss all the little things like bus rides and locker room talks. I even miss those dreaded late practices where the coach can make us stay as long as he wants.
There is true beauty in high school sports and in a high school gym or out on the field.
It’s something that can’t be taken away because there is a reason that all of these athletes are playing. It’s not for a paycheck. They are playing because they love the game.
When you look at the excitement of the players after each point, or the kid in the student section who comes to games and feels a part of something even though he may not fit in, you can find that true beauty. It’s everywhere in high school sports. You just have to look closely.
I want to thank the Indians and Knights volleyball players for reminding me of that. You guys reminded me that I have the best job in the world and I could not be more thankful for that.
As I have said in previous columns, sports are more than a game. It’s so true. The lessons you learn, the experiences you have, the memories you make, stick with you for a lifetime.
I can vividly remember running out on the court as a sophomore in high school to the pep band for my first varsity basketball game. I still get chills thinking about it.
Make the most of every game and practice you have left because before you know it, your four years will be up and you will be missing it every day like I do.
High school sports are a beautiful thing. Thank you for the reminder.