Winless basketball team sings the blues away

I couldn’t help but notice the difference in coverage of a winless basketball team compared to one in Wrenshall, Minn., years ago. The girls of Wrenshall were late-night jokes. The story of the boys of McKay High School in Oregon, appropriately, was properly depicted in a nice story this week on Oregon Live.

The Oregon kids lost 61-to-13 the other night. They’re winless on the season. Seventeen games. Seventeen losses.

Their eighth-year coach is frustrated, but he snapped this video on the way home of his kids, the junior varsity, and the girl’s team.

“I really needed that,” Sanderson tells columnist John Canzano. “The kids have a way of lifting me up.”

Just a team, on a bus, understanding that life can be gnarled and knotted. Adversity will hit. Things will go sideways. In the end, high school sports is a wonderful and safe place for a young person to fail, isn’t it?

I was particularly moved by Allise’s effort to get the rest of his teammates involved. He urged them to join in. He even called upon the coach to sing. And in that moment what you had wasn’t a failed bunch of splintered players, but a galvanized bunch.

That kind of soaring spirit has become lost in amateur athletics. Well-meaning parents too often strive to fix their children’s problems. Kids are transferring from schools, chasing success, as if they were NBA players. And in that, I wonder if we all understand that the vast majority of high school athletes won’t even play for a college.

Your kid will work for a bad boss someday. They’ll have a trying co-worker. Maybe they’ll even find themselves in a failed relationship or pioneering a losing business proposition. What our society has left them with is an impaired ability to cope.

Not at McKay and not at Wrenshall back in the day. Some kids learn important lessons by what others consider failure. You show up, you work hard. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, so you keep working on it because someday it might.

By the way, the kids of Wrenshall (different kids, same spirit) are still plugging away. The team, the official high school girls basketball team of NewsCut, are 5-and-20 on the year and 1-and-6 in conference play, and they had a 78-to-4 loss to Cromwell and a 64-to-45 win over Kelley.

Someone should go do a story about them.

  • Gary F

    My son played on a football team that went 0-7. They were behind by at least two touchdowns in the first quarter every game. The first touchdown they scored was in the third game and it got called back because my son got called for holding.

    It hurt the parents more than it did the kids. The coach was great, they practiced hard, and went out ready to take on the next opponent each week.

    After the games, they would laugh and play around just like they would if they won. They are all in their twenties now, and have built bonds that they still talk about.

    Its what you make of it. And again, it bugged the parents more than it did the kids.

  • Joseph

    He’s got a good voice! That’s a fun way to start the day, thanks Bob 🙂

  • boB from WA

    We don’t learn success by winning. We learn success by failing. And success takes many forms, not all of which are tangible.

  • tarry_on

    Watched on YouTube the live encore at the studio– and, yes, teared up a bit. A kind young man with such a sweet voice.