I hated to hear about Clinton High School’s basketball season ending Sunday night.
Yeah, even Mother Nature wanted to make CHS go through something strange in what has been a season of oddities for Clinton High School basketball.
At the beginning of the high school basketball year I told anyone who would listen — and this is my opinion alone — that Chris Lockard will have his Dragons go 3-19 in the regular season and then beat the pants off of you in the post season. His Dragons almost did that.
See, I’m not a basketball fan. I like playing it enough if there aren’t fouls called. As far as watching it … Not so much.
But since day one, way back in 1995, I liked watching Clinton High School basketball.
Because it wasn’t so much a game “right then,” but a game “later.”
The first season I watched them in 1995 taught me that. Seriously, I did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday.
Legendary Coach Don Lockard would toy with his line up during the regular season. There would be losses. There would be wins.
But there would be knowledge gained.
Like the man was surprised by a good result.
Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?
The difference this season is there was no Don Lockard watching, kinda like a “Godfather of Clinton Hoops.”
Since Don Lockard retired in 2000, he was always there, letting those players on the floor know they had a standard to follow. Every year Clinton played like it had something to prove. Maybe not to themselves, or the outside world.
But to “Coach?”
You can bet they knew the standard.
Early season non-district games? Whatever.
District games — regular season? Whatever.
Post season? “Damn, Clinton’s in our bracket.”
The Clinton High School basketball Dragons wanted to make this season special, in honor of Coach Don Lockard. The Godfather.
Like I mentioned, I don’t know a lot about basketball.
I know a lot about sports. I know about mindsets, athletes, resolve, winning, losing, and all the peaks and valleys in between.
I know a lot about having the mental toughness, the so-called “heart” to play sports. I know about the sacrifice it sometimes takes.
Playing a sport is not easy. It’s not something you do unless you have a certain something — and God as my witness — that you will never be able to put into words.
You “want (and that’s not even close).”
To do your best. To be better. To be recognized for your hard work (and it is hard work; preparing to play a “game” is hard work — don’t let anyone tell you different).
To accept the rewards for that work.
Which can be sweet.
To be humble when you fall short.
Because it can break your heart.
Either way, it’s worth it.
Because your coach says so.
That’s what a coach does. He tells a group of undersized athletes they can compete against a bigger, faster, meaner team, and they can beat them. He can tell a group of undersized athletes that in the world of giants the guys with heart, with the will, don’t whither.
No, it doesn’t always work the way the coach wants it. I mean, seriously, as much as a coach prepares his team, gets them ready, even loves them … There is an opposing coach with the same approach; the same love for his team; the same preparedness; the same desire for his team to win.
But a coach transfers that “game” concept to a player so they have a map for life: Work hard, achieve, if you fail, rinse, repeat, work harder.
I have no idea what the future holds for the players on the 2018-2019 Dragons.
But if this one season is an indication of things to come in their future they won’t be afraid to venture where they weren’t supposed to go, they will finish strong, and they will know that hard work pays off.
It was a special season for the CHS Dragons. More than they know.
The new “Coach,” has earned the same legacy of the late “Coach.”