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Making it count

Making it count Making it count

Brian Wilson

And just like that it was over.

At 2:03 p.m. on Saturday, February 17 my son Alex threw his last rock as a member of the Medford Area Senior High School curling team.

It was their last game in the state tournament. His team was down one rock coming home in the 8th end with hammer. From where we were sitting it looked like for sure Medford’s tying rock was in count but from our angle the others looked too close to call. Their team’s skip missed his shot and held out his hand to Alex, conceding the game knowing that from the view on the ice Medford was laying two stones to take the victory.

Alex didn’t get a chance to throw his second stone. He didn’t have to since the win was secured. Sometimes life, and curling, are like that. You have to make every shot count. You are never promised a second chance.

Alex’s team settled for a 2-1 record at state, their loss to eventual state champions Wausau West kept them from advancing further, but it was good to go out on a positive note in what has been at times a challenging season.

I don’t think it matters what sport or activity your kids are involved in. Watching that last play, the last sprint to the finish line, the last basket, or the rock release on the last shot is an emotional moment as a parent.

Being the parent of a student athlete is just about a full time job - or at least it feels like it at times. For years, you are a taxi driver ferrying them from practice to games to more practices to camps to events. Other times, you feel like an ATM as they need specialized gear and equipment. Unlike other sports, curlers in Medford aren’t issued a school uniform, so there is making sure they have appropriate clothes for competition packed and ready before they go to a game.

Alex curled his last game wearing his kilt. His greatgrandmother who was born on the boat coming over from Scotland would have approved.

Alex has been involved with curling literally his entire life. Olympic curling was on the television in the labor and delivery room at the hospital when he was being born 18 years ago this weekend. I remember us explaining the fundamentals of the game to the on-call doctor who stopped in to check on my wife, Kim.

Alex grew up as a rink rat — always looking to get a chance to get out on the ice and throw some rocks, even when the rocks weighed more than he did.

As one season bled into another, I watched as he improved in skill and grew more confident. Taking the steps forward and becoming a leader and role model helping with youth programs.

These observations are not unique to my son. Any parent of a student athlete can tell similar stories of watching their children mature and grow until they no longer need us to stand beside them, but instead race ahead leaving us behind to watch them go.

Across every sports venue, there are young people who each year play their last game as part of their high school teams. A small number may have the opportunity to go on and compete at higher levels. Others must satisfy their craving for competition in recreational leagues and the occasional tournament. Many will not realize for years just how lucky they were to get a chance to compete and will carry the friendships they made through sports throughout their lives.

It is also a sure bet that somewhere in the stands, there are proud parents doing a miserable job of hiding their emotions as yet another chapter closes and all that remain are memories.

Brian Wilson is News Editor at The Star News.