The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

November 30, 2012

Lessons that matter on and off the field

In the years since Coach Dave Hess and his staff took over the Selinsgrove Area High School football team, they have demonstrated two things:

- They know how to build a winning program; and

- They know how to keep their priorities straight.

A year away from a highly unusual 1-win season, the Seals play tonight in Bethlehem in the state quaterfinals.

Casual observers may have long forgotten the Seals’ 2011 season. Fans may wish they could forget it.

The season began ignominously with the departure from the team of a number of players who had been caught up in a police raid at a party. The absence of those players contributed to a sense of disarray that the team never overcame.

This season was not without its bumps either. A resounding victory over cross-river rival Shikellamy was marred by an end-of-the-game brawl.

Coaches for both teams expressed their displeasure at the episode and worked to quickly communicate to their players that they expected better from them.

The Seals ended their regular season with a loss to Danville — the only other Valley team still playing — before Selinsgrove reeled off three post-season victories in a row, outscoring their opponents 113-14, leading up to tonight’s matchup.

Team sports provide scholastic-athletes with opportunities to learn a variety of important lessons about life and about themselves.

Student-athletes learn to accept and respond to success and defeat with dignity and perspective.

Student-athletes also learn how to lead and how to be contributing members of a team.

Successful coaches help young people understand that defeat can be a temporary setback if competitors recognize how their shortcomings were exposed and work to improve. Coaches help young people realize that winning does not just happen, it is something is achieved by combining skills and strength acquired through practice with focus and determination when it is time to enter the fray.

Those are lessons that can translate into success in the classroom and, later in life, in the workplace. Nowhere do those lessons happen under greater scrutiny than on the football field.

It is no coincidence that the schools that have experienced the greatest academic success locally — Lewisburg, Danville and Selinsgrove — are among those that compete most fiercely on the athletic fields, as well.

Teachers play a huge role in that success. Parents are vitally important too. But for many young people, their sports coaches are the mentors that make the difference.

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