SportStars Magazine

Spirit Of Sport | A #NeverStop Message By Pat Cruickshank

Spirit, Sport, NCS, Cruickshank

North Coast Section Commissioner Pat Cruickshank Marvels At The Spirit Guiding Various Efforts To Honor The Student-Athletes Who Were Denied Their Seasons, Graduations •

This is part of the SportStars #NeverStop Project

The past few months have spun our world into a crazy and unprecedented time. Quarantine, sickness and deaths have been the focal point of this global pandemic. But beneath it all has risen a spirit. A spirit of kindness and helpfulness. A spirit of caring and consideration. 

This spirit can be witnessed right here and in other news and in social media. We see people helping the elderly, caring for the sick and sacrificing personal resources for those in need. It is genuinely heartwarming to see this type of behavior for our fellow citizens, sometimes done by total strangers. These are the ideals that our society was and should be based on.

In our world of interscholastic sports, which I have been a part of for the better part of 50 years dating back to my own high school experiences, the outpouring of love and gratitude for our student-athletes has been astonishing. Schools, communities, coaches and athletic directors have come together to honor their spring teams, athletes — and more importantly the Class of 2020.

The amazing displays of recognition for these students who prepared for their season like every other sport, but have very little to show for it in terms of competition, has been truly amazing. Some of the ones that have stood out to me:

>> The Humboldt Del Norte Athletic League communities turned on their stadium lights for 20 minutes last month to honor the Class of 2020.

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>> There have been Drive-by Senior Nights for those graduating players who never got to have their own ceremony at school, in front of their friends and family.

>> Schools have hosted virtual National Letter of Intent signing ceremonies, where not only the school and student’s friends and family got to experience it, but all those in the social media world had a chance to be part of it as well!

Spirit, Sport, Mykenzie Clark, Carondelet

Graduating Carondelet softball player, Mykenzie Clark, waves to school teachers and staff during a May celebration. (Twitter: @Carondelet_HS)

>> Schools have adjusted uniform pick-up procedures to include awards ceremonies where block letters were delivered along with certificates and other awards. 

>> Even ESPN got in on the action by having its own “Senior Nights.” Two of which featured NCS member schools San Domenico-San Anselmo boys basketball and Tamalpais-Mill Valley swimming and water polo.

>> And of course SportStars’ #NeverStop inspirational campaign.

There were others, however this space doesn’t allow me to mention them all. But suffice it to say, schools have outdone themselves. They have thought outside the box to honor those who made differences at their school and in their community.

Coaches and ADs have done what coaches and ADs do best: adapt! No profession that I have ever witnessed is better at adapting and being flexible than coaching. Most good coaches must make instant decisions during tough, tight games to give their teams an edge. Those decisions come from hours of practice, careful planning and years of experience. Those qualities have led to this outpouring of support for our students during this very difficult time. And unlike some of those game-time decisions, all these displays were winners.

We will once again hear the crack of the bat, whipping of the twine, and the roar of the crowd. Until that time, we must continue to lean on each other with the spirit of hope within all of us. We must focus our energy and emotions on those things that we have control over. 

Calmness and composure are words from coach John Wooden that ring so true during this time for our coaches, ADs and school leaders. Coach Wooden described leaders as people who meet all events, whether favorable or unfavorable, with calmness and composure. It is with those qualities, and with our spirit, that we will come out of this time closer and stronger! We will rise again!

Be safe.

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