Column: Looking back at a jam-packed year with the Ardmoreite
It’s crazy to think it’s already been a year since I took over as the Ardmoreite's sports editor. Time has flown by quickly and a lot of that has to with a busy schedule.
However, I’m not complaining as it’s a privilege to have a job that’s jam-packed with excitement every day.
And this past year was full of ups and downs as athletes not only battled adversity on the field, but off it as well. COVID-19 made things difficult, but they persevered and made it through.
That dedication during a pandemic should be remembered along with the obvious competitive accomplishments.
However, I’ll keep that topic brief and instead focus on a few highlights of my first year at the Ardmoreite.
The first thing that comes to mind was the frenzy of traveling to 12 high schools for football practice. While it was a grueling task, it helped me get familiar with southern Oklahoma and set the tone for the busy year ahead.
And it sure was an exciting inaugural campaign as I covered Lone Grove softball’s successful run to the Class 4A State Championship game. While the Lady Horns didn’t win it all, it was still an experience I’ll always remember.
I didn’t have much time to relish that memory though, as less than a month later the Plainview girls cross country team capped a perfect season by winning the Class 4A State Championship.
It was quite the sight to see, too, as I witnessed the Lady Indians shed tears of joy alongside coach Jerry Naylor.
The bond that group had was something special and it still amazes me that I could be in attendance as Naylor led Plainview to its 19th state cross country title.
However, if you haven’t noticed the theme yet, my focus once again shifted to another playoff run. It was sooner this time though, as the Ringling football team began its title defense just two weeks later.
And all signs pointed to the Blue Devils hoisting a Class A State Championship as they ran over three straight opponents to advance to the semifinals. Unfortunately, that’s where the road ended as Ringling came up short by one point.
That was a tough setback to witness, especially seeing the locker room after the game.
But even in defeat, Blue Devils coach Phil Koons put it best when he said, “This group has nothing to be ashamed of. They’re heartbroken because they play so hard. When you put your heart and soul into what you do, you’re going to be brokenhearted at the end if it doesn’t come out with the gold. That’s why these guys hurt so bad.”
Unfortunately, that heartbreak struck again later in the year. It didn’t appear that would be the case though, as the Lone Grove baseball team was in the midst of a magical run that featured a 33-0 record during the regular season.
And while it was tough to witness the Longhorns come up short, coach Tyler Pybas knew who the real champions were at the end of the day.
“… I don’t care what the scoreboard shows, these guys are winners and they’re going to be winners in life,” he said on May 13. “They’re great young men. What a season.”
Shifting gears from heartbreak to jubilation gives us a group of state champions.
The final month of the season featured the Plainview girls golf team winning its fourth straight state tile along with the Ardmore boys and girls track and field teams hoisting the Class 5A State Championship at home.
It’s tough to put into words how amazing it was to see those three squads win it all, but it capped an incredible first year at the Ardmoreite.
I look forward to what the next year holds and hopefully I’ll be writing about even more state championship teams in southern Oklahoma.