Niagara Gazette — As the high school football season winds down for most of the varsity programs in our readership area (Grand Island is still alive and hosting a playoff game next Saturday), many local players are looking back upon this season with considerable disappointment and despair.
I’ve seen a few of their remarks on Twitter. Some of them are getting pretty hard on themselves, especially seniors, for having ended a losing season.
These seniors, along with juniors who will inherit the leadership roles on their respective squads next season, are the players I want to reach. In fact, this is for any local athlete whose season ended with a losing record, regardless of the sport, regardless of whether you’re a boy or girl.
I’m here to tell you that a losing season does not mean all hope is lost. In fact, sometimes a losing season shows a coach or scout the kind of character that higher-level programs are looking for, regardless of the numbers on the scoreboard or in the standings.
I tell you this because I have seen it happen.
Back in 2001, I began a volunteer relationship with the Buffalo Lightning Junior A hockey team, based in West Seneca and competing in the former Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League.
In a nutshell, the team was outmatched most nights, often times just running out of gas and after keeping it close for the first two periods falling apart in the third. They finished their 48-game schedule with a grand total of five wins.
Some of the players never went beyond that season and a few are still hanging around in the local late night beer leagues.
There was one kid on the Lightning, though, who got noticed.
He was just turning 16 years old at the time and, even as a frustrating season dragged on, commuted from the Rochester area after school to make practices and games, not letting up at all on his work ethic and routine.