Letter from the Editor

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Presidential ex's, basketball heart

For the last time, Denny Kucinich, we just don't have room for another paper route, so just get back on your little Stingray bike and roll on back to Ohio.

And no, Chris Dodd and Bill Richardson, I don't need my windshield squeegied for pocket change.

I can carry my own groceries out to the car, Toms... Vilsack, Thompson and Tancredo. Step aside, lads.

Is that Freddie Thompson standing in line to try out as one of Hanna Montana's backup dancers? Joe Biden loitering? Duncan Hunter mumbling as he goes through the dumpster behind Pizza Hut for discarded crusts? Jim Gilmore sleeping it off on a bench in Sunset Park, Sam Brownback picking up nickle cans out on 71?

The headlines say the unemployment rate in Iowa has gone up - frankly, I think it's just the glut of former presidential candidates left behing that are messing up the stats. Can a whole new series of Viagra commercials be far behind?

So what do all these guys do after leaving the campaign? This is a societal challenge we must face:

* Form a reality show cast. "They Real Dull World."

* Garage sale. Big one. Blue Blazers R Us.

* Start a presidential "minor leagues" campaign.

* Appearances as Darth Vader at kids' birthday parties.

* Three words. Heterosexuality pride parade.

* Open for Wheezer. Call yourself "The Sore Lozerz."

* Casey's is hiring. Sorry, no overtime boys.

* Save a seat for Edwards.

* Really ugly cheerleaders. Well, Vilsack does have nice legs.

* Pro wrestling. You know Thompson's thought about it.

* Chapstick test lab animals.

* Legally change all names to "Bush" and "Clinton."

* Get drunk and marry someone a third of their age... oops, some of them have already been there and done that.

* Claim to have invented the internet.

* Spring break... Parrrrrrrrrrtay!

* Pheasant hunting with Cheney.

* Run for chairman of the neighborhood watch committee. Then insist on going to war against the next cul-de-sac by claiming that the family in the split-level is hiding WMDs in the breakfast nook.

* Claim the #%*?!! was "fixed."

Team of the year

The St. Mary's girls, I think, may be the most impressive team I've seen all season long.

"But Spalding-for-brains," you say, "they haven't won."

And I say this to you - oh yes, they have.

I've never quite understood the fascination people have with sports teams that always beat everyone, that seem to do it so easily. No sweat, book the Super 8 in Des Moines before the season, order the "champions" t-shirts and add on to the trophy case.

Imagine the character it takes to show up every day when no one expects you to beat people. To work your butt off at practice, and play as hard as you can play every night, just as hard as any team with a shiny record, no excuses, knowing it might not be enough, again. To not even think about giving up or stop trying.

I think it's called "character."

That's been the St. Mary's girls. Coming off a record-setting season a year ago at one of the smallest schools in the state, losing all five starters - and their coach. Having just 10 girls out, only one with varsity hoops experience. Talk about having your odds stacked against you - sheesh.

Ask anyone - not a big enough school, not enough girls, not enough size, not enough experience, not enough anything to compete.

The numbers don't tell you quite everything though - they don't measure heart or character.

No one plays harder than these Panther girls. They love the game, and it shows. The little girls in the stands can go ahead and take a good look at Katie, Rylee, Melanie, Olvido, Caitlyn, Jen, Anyssa, Cayla, Emily and Jenny, and realize that there are more important things than wins and losses. That is not a bad thing to notice.

In a season like this one, you find out some things about what you are made of - players and fans too.

If you can't tell from the behavior of the fans and especially the parents if your team is ahead 20 or behind 20, you probably have something good going, I figure. When the parents act more childish than the children, there's a problem.

Someone who always wins may never learn to pick themselves up off the floor, which is a skill everyone will need somewhere along the line. There are places where not winning is considered a tragedy, when really, only not trying would be sad.

Wins will come for St. Mary's in their good time, but years from now, what the 2008 Panthers will remember isn't the record, but that they brought all they had, they were a team, they learned and improved and smiled even when it wasn't easy. They played with class, and they enjoyed each other and the game no matter what the odds.

At least as much so as as any of the rest of the fine high school girl student-athletes all over the area who do this game proud.

The St. Mary's girls kept their heads up when others might have wilted. And that is the kind of stuff you need to succeed not just in sports, but in life.

Winners? You don't need a record book to know them.

They may not be getting any trophies this year, but if I had one to hand out for heart, I know where it would go.

* Dana Larsen is the editor of the Storm Lake Pilot-Tribune. Reach him at dlarsen@stormlakepilottribune.com