County sports rivalries and success transcend one another

By Bill Barrows

I took some time to just stand back and observe the Wabash community last week as the buildup started after the euphoria of Southwood Boys Basketball’s 2 point win over Ft. Wayne Blackhawk Christian.

I was out of town on Saturday and the amount of Tweets, texts, emails and phone calls that I received was special because Wabash County Sports enthusiasts wanted to spread the news that the Knights had won and were heading to the State Final Game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. From 200 miles away, I could feel the emotions of an entire community as the mood went from excitement and celebration to anticipation.

On Monday it continued to build. The Knights players that frequent the YMCA were made to feel special by staff members. I saw a number of Tweets and Facebook posts wishing the Knights good luck from individuals, rival schools and players who played against the Knights over the course of the season. School spirit at Southwood and among its community has seldom been higher. Spirit shirts were being purchased as they have been all along the tourney trail and something even more unique started to happen……..

Between Southwood and Oak Hill, fierce rivals whose school boundaries border each other, have become allies during this journey. Social media pictures of the two teams surfaced almost hourly as both teams prepared to play their respective opponents in the state finals. A number of groundswell conversations began as the anticipated sale of tickets began. All of the teams are allotted tickets, but as in any special IHSAA sports event, they are at a premium.

But the best thing that happened was the way that county rivals again fell in behind any team that gets deep into the tourney. This season was no different.  Northfield, Wabash and Manchester players and fans were present and following Southwood. Many of those same players, who competed tooth and nail against the Knights only weeks ago, were on hand at Frankfort for the regional, Huntington North for the semi-state and at Indianapolis during a snowstorm to back the Knights.

After all, in any high school sport, it is more about competing and the journey to get to the destination, not necessarily the mere winning or losing. Only one team wins their last game on the scoreboard. But in my eyes, the Knights were winners, regardless of the final outcome. And just as important, is a community of winners, all of whom followed the team either intensely or passively, from the front row or from afar.

So Wabash County sports fans, give yourselves a standing ovation, and maybe even give yourselves a collective pat on the back. Because even for a just a short time, we all put our differences aside, the school boundaries disappeared, heated political issues moved off the table and even daily worries were out of our minds. Be proud of our collective accomplishments and look to follow the examples of these kids.

Maybe, just maybe, they are showing us the way by the example they have set for us.

Posted on 2018 Mar 27