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Wildcats Won Where It Counts

I’ve never been entirely sold on criticism of the “participation trophy” concept. Young people do need to know the difference between winning and merely participating a contest, whether that’s on the playing field, in the classroom or on the job site. Still, there’s something to be said for showing up.

Take the Paden City High School football team, which came out with the lower score Friday night during its game against Van. The final tally was 64-28. In their season opener, the Wildcats came out No. 2 against Federal Hocking, by a 50-22 score.

You will notice I did not use the word “lose.” The ‘Cats didn’t lose — because they showed up.

Give each of them a three-foot-tall participation trophy.

At season’s end, there were just 11 young men on the PCHS football team. Their coach, Zach Heasley, and other school officials made the wise decision to call off the season. Continuing with 11 players would have been an invitation to someone getting hurt, perhaps badly.

But these 11 young men — and I thought about whether that word was appropriate — played their hearts out, knowing they probably didn’t stand much of a chance of outscoring Van.

Now, I suppose this is where I put in the conflict of interest line: I lived in Paden City for several years. So maybe I’m a bit partial.

There are good reasons for that, however. Paden City folks are fiercely proud of their town and their high school. Some would say the school, enrollment 187, according to the state, is too small. But somehow, the PCHS students and teachers are able to compete academically and often athletically with bigger schools.

PCHS students learn some valuable lessons from their elders. One, as I’ve related more than once, is about the time the Ku Klux Klan visited town for a recruiting parade a few decades ago. Paden City let them know in no uncertain terms they had better leave before bad things happened.

Clearly, Paden City kids learn about hard work, dedication to a cause, not letting teammates and your community down — and holding your head up high.

They won last Friday night, because during a tough year for everyone, they endured the practices, dropped their opener, learned their season was coming to an end — yet stuck with it to the end.

One suggestion for the young men: When you apply for college or a job, clip the story about the last game out and attach it to your application.

It says a lot about you. To any intelligent college or job recruiter, it says, “I want this guy. He shows up. He gives it all he has. He doesn’t quit.”

That’s a winner, folks.

Myer can be reached at: mmyer@theintelligencer.net.

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