By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle
The Chicago Cubs often are referred to as “lovable losers.” Their fans have waited since 1908 for a World Series title and prospects for the future don’t appear to be any more likely than past years in ending that string of futility.
Such long-standing failure can drive a sports program or team to its collective knees and turn its fans and supporters into jaded souls. Not everyone is satisfied to be a loser, and most don’t have the patience of Cubs fans.
But what about on the high school scene? It takes a special kind of fan/parent/coach to keep persevering in the face of repeated failure, not to mention the kids themselves. Maybe that’s what makes Kremlin-Hillsdale’s recent baseball championship in the Cherokee Strip Tournament so heartwarming.
Let’s be honest, the Broncs have been suffering across the board in most of their sports for the past few seasons. Their boys basketball and their football team had three wins total this past season, which was three more than the previous year. And most of the losses were blowouts. Championships, sadly, are rare commodities for the Broncs.
But that changed slightly when Kremlin-Hillsdale not only won the Cherokee Strip Tournament, but did so in improbable fashion, coming back from a 7-0 deficit against Cherokee to pull out an 8-7 win this past Saturday to claim the crown.
The win doesn’t erase all the hurt from past seasons in other sports, but it sure helps.
“That means a lot,” second-year head coach Terry Fettke told the Enid News & Eagle Wednesday about his team’s comeback. “They are willing to keep fighting ...”
Now, Kremlin-Hillsdale is not likely to win a state title and nobody is getting carried away with their tournament crown, but it says something that they have been resilient enough to keep fighting through losing. Of course, kids have a way of not internalizing things the way we adults do and don’t let themselves get weighed down by things in the past over which they had no control.
We saw something similar too this past football season in our area when Chisholm High School, after going a combined 1-19 in the previous two seasons, posted a 5-5 record, its first non-losing season since going 5-5 in 2008.
Heading into last season, not many so-called experts gave Chisholm head football coach Joey Reinart much of a chance at anything more than another losing season, with his Longhorns expected to scrape bottom again.
“When you have put in as much work as we have ... when you have invested this much time, you expect to go up,” Reinart told the Enid News & Eagle prior to the 2012 season. “We are doing things the right way.”
Obviously that turned out to be more than just coach-speak.
It’s nice to see young athletes at schools like Kremlin-Hillsdale and Chisholm finally getting to experience some reward for their hard work. You can bear to be a lovable loser for only so long, unless you are a Chicago Cub.
“Attitude is so important,” Fettke said. “The important thing is they (the Kremlin-Hillsdale players) are believing in themselves.”
And that’s what it’s all about. Well, other than winning.
Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.