Hook, Line and Sinker

By Tony Hooker
How in the world can it be time for Ag Days again?

Wasn’t it just a minute ago that we were wondering if the cold, snowy weather, followed by the seemingly endless rains were ever going to end?

Nevertheless, August is upon us and that means the Villa Grove scholastic sports season is gearing up, though it really never goes away completely. The football team has been hitting the weights while making the rounds on the 7-on-7 circuit. I’m hearing positive reports about the team’s progress, but a season opening game vs Tuscola, along with the new Lincoln Prairie conference slate, will prove to be a formidable trek.

The volleyball team is looking to improve upon last year’s win total with an eye on potentially doing a little post-season damage for the first time in a long time, if ever. I think that the long losing streak barely registers as a memory for the coaches and players.  

Cross country has had solid numbers at their voluntary workouts, so that program too would appear to be on the way back up after a down turn.  

Junior high baseball, softball and cross country seasons will be beginning in about a month. Each of these relatively new programs are beginning to feed the high school teams, and the fruits of these endeavors should begin to pay off with stronger programs across the board.  

The softball team has already seen the results of having talented players who gain meaningful experience through a middle school program, as most of the contributors to this spring’s sectional title winners were a part of a title winning junior high nine a few years ago. 

Baseball, entering its third season, looks to continue to build upon and overcome the growing pains of the past two inaugural seasons. There is talent there, but the test will be to balance the sports as the young athletes strive to try their hand at everything.

Although it’s not a school sport, JFL is upon us as well, with their practice game coming on Aug. 10 vs Unity, followed a week later with their first contest of the season, also against Unity.  

I was recently asked if I was glad that all of my kids have graduated from high school, so I don’t have to attend so many games and dance competitions, and the question actually caught me off guard, because I have never really thought about it like that. I’ve been going to games and competitions for so long that I’m not sure what it would look like if I stopped, so I probably won’t ever stop completely, though there are a few things I won’t miss. Being a dance dad is expensive, kids, and some of the drives to away games seem to take forever.

Some say that sport in society is overrated, but I for one see the value in the lessons it affords us. In sport, kids learn how to win with humility, if our coaches are doing it right. We also learn to lose with dignity, even if it kills us inside, or at least we should. We just hope we don’t have to do it often. When it’s coached correctly, it teaches us the value of putting team over self, of knowing that you’re part of something for a brief time that is larger than you and eternal. The Blue Devils, Rockets, or Warriors will still field a team when you’ve moved on, but at this moment it’s your time to shine. 

Here’s to a fun, competitive healthy season for all our fall sports participants. 

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