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Our best, that’s all

March 5, 2012
By MIKE MATHISON - Sports editor ( , The Herald-Star

I cannot say I've seen it all in high school sports, and that's both fortunate and unfortunate.

I've seen a basketball team freeze out its best player and I've seen a best player freeze out the teammates.

I have never seen an adult arrested at a high school sporting event, but I've heard of many and I wonder what happens to get an adult to that place.

I've seen many adults kicked out of high school sporting events and more who should have been.

I've seen athletes give everything and then some and I've seen athletes who really didn't care.

I've seen athletes who took a certain loss personally and other athletes who were laughing and carrying on within minutes of the final buzzer.

I've seen coaches with attitudes, senses of humor, personalities and everything in between.

Sports teaches us a lot.

It teaches us how to deal with adversity on and off the athletic venue and how to find a whole new level of patience with the players and the adults.

One thing it teaches all of us is how to give our best each time out.

"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud." - Prov. 16:18-19

Parents, coaches, teachers and employers want to see you give your best at all times, we just don't want you to tell us over and over again that you are giving us your best.

We see it.

We want your best because it is the right thing to do.

We want your best because it makes the household better, the team better, the classroom better, the workplace better.

We would you rather spend time figuring out how to make something better than to whine about it constantly.

And, you want us to do the same.

At the same time, as we expect your best, you should always expect our best.

You should expect our best as a parent, coach, teacher, boss or adult in general.

We can't ask you something that we are unwilling to do ourselves.

As we don't want to hear from you, you sure don't want to hear from us constantly about us doing our best.

You see it.

Your best means the 12th player on the team is better.

The best by the 12th player on the team means you are better.

I know you don't want your parents to stand up in a crowd and proclaim, "that's my kid," after you intercept a pass, score a goal, a basket, a run, or whatever on the athletic field.

You see, there's a really good chance that same parent will not stand up in a crowd and proclaim, "that's my kid," after you throw the interception, get a red card, throw the ball away or strike out in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded, or whatever miscue can happen on the athletic field.

"He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." - Prov. 25:28

The quarterback's mom doesn't want to hear you rail on her son after he throws a pick.

At the same time, the quarterback's mom doesn't want to see her son point to himself after he throws a touchdown pass.

We want your best because it is the right thing to do and it is right for others - those you hold the door open for, those you say "thank you" and "you're welcome" to and those let cut in front of your at the grocery store because they have two items and you have 19 in the 20-or-less lane.

No one should be satisfied about a great day and think that tomorrow it is OK to be average.

You go to weightlifting at 6 a.m., not for you, but for your teammates.

You sweat for your teammates.

We do things for the front of the shirt, not the back.

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." - Philippians 2:3

This column started Sunday morning when my 15-year-old son and I watched an ESPN story on congenital amputee Kyle Maynard and his quest to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro.

Reports say it takes an average climber five days to climb Africa's highest peak (more than 19,000 feet) and the story said 15 days were projected for Maynard and the hiking crew.

One route was agreed upon and the masses started the ascent.

Days into the quest, despite special gear, his arms started to swell because of the mileage he was putting on them. So, another route was conceived, a more straightforward route, but more dangerous.

At one time, Maynard climbed what is called the western breah for 12 hours in a row.

It wasn't easy, obviously, but Maynard and the crew made it to the peak five days ahead of schedule.

He really didn't climb Mount Kilimanjaro - he crawled up it.

He found a new him inside that crawl.

Maynard doesn't make that climb without the people around him.

The people around him don't make that climb without Maynard.

Their best.

Before the piece on Maynard there was a brilliant piece on Elena Delle Donne, who is leading the University of Delaware women's basketball team to a No. 8 slot in the nation, the best in school history.

The Blue Hens?

Delle Donne was the No. 1 recruit in the nation in 2008 and signed with the nation's top program - UConn - but left during the summer after 48 hours on campus - she was homesick.

This wasn't your typical home sickness - at least it wasn't to me.

She returned to Delaware because she missed her older sister, Lizzie.

"She's the strongest person I know," she said on the ESPN piece about her older sister. "She's been through over 30 surgeries. She was born deaf, blind, with cerebral palsy and she has autism. She's just incredibly strong and she perseveres no matter what.

"Lizzie and I have an unspoken love. That's something you don't have with people in our time today where text messaging, phone calls, Skype is everything.

"It's amazing to have that connection with her - to be able to have her as my role model, my angel, everything."

Your best.

Continued prayers for Justin Cummings and his family.

The road is long and the family deserves our best.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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