Thursday, December 8, 2005

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

Friendly rivals

Good things can be accomplished through communication and working together.

There are many examples of that underway in our area.

Those include strategic planning, leadership classes, economic development efforts and other avenues for uniting people from all parts of Marshall County.

That teamwork is crucial to the future growth and success of our area. Togetherness means everything when it comes to building a better community.

Sure, there will always be differences, but those can and should be overcome based on what’s best for the whole.

The working together extends into our schools, too.

Thursday, sports editor Claude Vinson coordinated The South Reporter’s first luncheon for head coaches and administrators from schools in Marshall and Benton counties.

It had several purposes, the most important being to boost that working together theme.

It also served as a tipoff event for the second annual Bi-County Tournament, which itself is a fine example of what can be accomplished through coming together and opening the lines of communication.

But the focus of last week’s luncheon was on much more than just basketball or any other sport. Some leaders in our schools, junior high to high school, public and private, met each other for the first time Thursday.

The conversation was good, and the smiles and laughter even better. Many of these folks are rivals on the court or the field, always playing to win, but away from the competition, they’re good friends. That’s the case, too, with many of our young people from area schools.

At the meeting, the coaches all urged support of one another and each individual school.

“Thanks” was a common response following the luncheon.

“Let’s do it again” was a common theme.

There were lots of good thoughts about other ways to bring young people and adults from all of our schools together. We hope to get some local civic clubs involved, too.

The luncheon was also a way for Claude, myself and sports photographer Lawrence White to let the coaches and administrators know how much we appreciate their help in producing one of the top sports sections in the state among weekly newspapers.

We could not do it without their help.

And as I emphasized, “The reason we do it is for the kids.”

The young people (and their parents) love to see their names and photos in the newspaper, and the athletes deserve it, whether 10-0 or 0-10. It’s not all about winning or losing. And our job is to uplift, not to tear down.

We also took the opportunity to stress our deadlines, request their assistance in meeting those deadlines and explain how our goal is to cover all the schools fairly and to the best of our ability. We want to promote them all, equally.

We are the entire community’s newspaper, and we do not take that role lightly. We’re a small staff but we put a lot of thought and work into producing the newspaper for you each week.

The luncheon went so well that we’re thinking about doing it perhaps twice a year - once in the spring and once in the fall.

Of course, there were a few coaches who suggested we do it weekly.

Thanks to all who participated, and hopefully next time our attendance will be even better, with all schools represented.

Remember, it’s all about communication and working together, and by doing that, we move our county forward in a positive, progressive manner.

And that should start with our young people. After all, they are our leaders of tomorrow, and those days will be here much quicker than we all realize.

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