Last Saturday, our local high school football team played the first round of sectionals 31/2 hours away in Mosinee Wisconsin. The game was a nail-biter down to the end, and they won in overtime. This particular win was not only sweet for many reasons not withstanding their talent, it was even sweeter because of what they’ve overcome. Last year our varsity didn’t win a single game…not one. This year, with dedication and a renewed sense of team over the individual player, they won almost every game. What a difference a year makes. That difference, specifically, was a commitment that went far beyond the season, to all year conditioning, to health and creating the environment necessary to imbue our players with success, and most definitely a strong core of leaders. As a parent, it was a wonderful experience to come together with the other parents and provide a meal for the team the night before every game. Arriving early to decorate and have posters and placards, beads and necklaces, pompoms and noisemakers and infuse the crowd with enthusiasm were also necessary elements in pulling out the best qualities in the players. A good positive environment does make a difference. Most of these players were on the team last year, and while difficult to explain, the whole tenor of the team is different this year. Maybe the boys realized after last year’s dismal season what needed to happen this year if they were going to turn it around, and most probably it was a combination of many different things. What I do know, is that these young men do respond favorably when there is a clear message that the community cares about them. I don’t think our young people see it enough in these trying times. I, for one, am proud of this community for rising up and showing support in a myriad of ways: to all the hard work of the boys; to the coaches for upping their game; to all those businesses and parents who donated food and whatever else was needed without ever batting an eye; to Dr Edling (my husband Steve) who was there at every game to act as team doctor and all the time during office hours and days off when he adjusted, taped, lasered, rubbed out, ARPed and decompressed anyone that needed it, most at his expense; and to all the fans who made road trips and at times froze their patuties off to yell and cheer support for our team. They could teach our politicians a thing or two….