I’ve been with the Pilot Tribune for two years in June now and I’ve had some experience going to a handful of State events. Within my first two months of working here I went to Fort Dodge for softball, but I lived around Fort Dodge for years so it was hardly anything new. Then, in June last year, I went to Des Moines for State soccer on a hot day which was a good experience. Got to catch up on my tan. I’ve also been to State cross country. However, today marks my first time going to a State event that’s held indoors. I will not have to brave the elements and shoot outside, but rather park myself on the floor of the Wells Fargo Arena and watch girls basketball. Half of my State experience now comes at the hands of the Newell-Fonda girls’ teams. What does it mean to go to State though? We’ve all seen TV shows and movies hype up State as the end all/be all of high school sports. If a team fails to make it to State, well, some could consider that season to be a failure, a bad year, but I find it to be the opposite. The end all be all to a high school career should not be time spent at State, but rather the memories of being with your teammates for four years, creating times that will last rather than one specific game. Granted, a run at State could end up with a championship which creates its own memory, but it should be about spending time with your peers. This year in basketball and wrestling for our winter sports, we saw a lot of great accomplishments for these young men and women. Our wrestlers had a really, really good year with four of them going to State for our area. I enjoyed watching those young men compete at various meets this year. Basketball, as we know, is one of my favorites, but I really got to understand wrestling this year in the way I didn’t in 2016-17. I have a better appreciation for the sport after this past few months and I enjoy writing about it more than I did when I had little knowledge of it. Plus, it’s always a blast to hear a coach yell “BUTCHER!” at a dual. So congratulations to all of our wrestlers this year for their effort regardless if they made it to State or not. To the seniors, best of luck with college if you’re headed there or whatever your plans may be. This basketball season has been an interesting one so far. Last year I missed the chance to go to State as our teams bowed out in some regional and substate finals in some heartbreaking decisions. I still remember that Newell-Fonda/Kingsley-Pierson regional final last year. They were able to exercise the demons this season with a return ticket to State. I’ve looked forward of being able to go to the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines for a State event. I love the arena having been there for various sports, including indoor football which is a blast. However, all of our teams did a good job this season and showed growth and improvement as they went along which is key. Not of all of them were able to make it to State, but quite a few teams improved so much from the first game I watched until the last game I watched of theirs this season. To see growth, personal and on the court, is so much more important than going to State for some. Again, yes it’s always nice to get that recognition for a great season, but sports are more than a game played on a court or a field. It’s about becoming a better person, connecting with your peers and creating memories off the playing field as well. I’m reminded of that NCAA commercial where they state that so many people are going pro in their respective majors, not in sports. And that’s honestly what State feels like sometimes. Not everyone is able to go pro, but will cherish the memories and the bond they had for that set amount of time.