Winning on and off the field

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In the world of sports, there will always be winners and losers. The FIFA World Cup did not end in a tie between Argentina and France, and only one football team will emerge on February 12th as the Super Bowl Champion. But as famed American sportswriter, Henry Grantland Rice, once wrote, “For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name. He writes – not that you won or lost – but how you played the Game.”

If you ask most area athletic directors, this is something they put a lot of emphasis on at the high school level. After all, their goal is to develop student-athletes with integrity and character who are prepared for life after high school.

On Naperville Sports Weekly our sports reporters follow our local teams throughout the season and for the last 16 years have found themselves reporting on many IHSA state championship teams from girls’ volleyball to boys’ cross country. And while following a team through the playoffs to the ultimate prize is exciting – both for the athletes and our reporters – it’s often the stories that inspire us and show us the many ways our local athletes are winning on and off the field..

Stories about a special friendship formed through a love of basketball between two girls; now in their senior year at Naperville Central; one the starting guard; the other the team manager who also happens to have special needs.

Or a story about another senior across town at Neuqua Valley. T.J. Skipper plays hockey for the Wildcats despite being diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, an eye cancer, that eventually led to the loss of his vision in his right eye.

Whether you have a child who participates in high school sports or not, I invite you to check out Naperville Sports Weekly and show your support for our local student-athletes. Keep in mind the majority of them won’t go on to play at the collegiate or professional level. Their time on the field during high school will be their “ESPN moment.” But, regardless of where life takes them after they graduate, the experience of playing high school sports helps build important skills such as resiliency, teamwork, communication, and a strong work ethic.

And, hopefully it also teaches something legendary Chicago coach Mike Ditka once said, “You’re never a loser until you quit trying.”