GLADWIN COUNTY – It is often said that “athletic competition builds character.” That may be true, but I also believe it also “reveals character.” How you handle adversity on the field may also reveal how you will handle it in “real life.” Can you adapt or do you cave? I have always believed that athletes with the ability to adapt will be successful in life.

The same can be said for crisis situations. Do you adapt or do you cave? This state seems to be tearing itself apart rather than coming together to fight a common enemy. The enemy isn’t us, it’s a virus. A virus is an infectious agent that relies on a host to spread. On its own it is just a piece of genetic material, inside the proper host it can be deadly. This same virus also seems to have mutated into a mechanism with the ability to turn us on one another. We seem to have become infected with something much worse than a virus. The hostility and lack of civility we are witnessing has the potential to cause far more damage to us as Americans than any external enemy or infection. So, what’s the cure? 

There may not be a cure, but we can treat the symptoms. We can look beyond ourselves and reach out to others. I can’t begin to treat those who have lost a loved one to this insidious disease. I also can’t help anyone get his or her job back. I also don’t want to minimize the pain and fear that many are experiencing. It is real and at times overwhelming, but we all can help each other. We can also reach out to our local high school seniors and let them know what they mean to us.

On Thursday, March 12, athletes were preparing for their spring season when the word went out from the Michigan High School Athletic Association that the spring season was going to be suspended. At that point I think most of us still thought that there would be some type of abbreviated season. By April 3 the season was cancelled. The seniors may have also lost their prom and graduation ceremony. Who knows?

Recently Chris Pellerito approached me with the idea that may offer a diversion along with a chance to help someone else feel better. Chris is the father of a Gladwin High School senior, Mara, and an Admissions Representative at Mid Michigan College. He knows what many local students are experiencing and proposed a kind of “letter to the editor” edition for our sports page, but instead of writing to the paper we would encourage letters to our teams and senior athletes, many of whom have to be feeling the sting of losing everything that goes along with the end of their senior year. I can look back on mine (43 years ago) and it feels like yesterday. They are some of the best memories from my childhood. Many parents are probably also feeling the same sense of loss. With three grown children of my own I know what an exciting time this can be for parents.

Many people will be deprived of those traditional memories, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t have memories. They will remember this time and with your help they can be pleasant memories. I interviewed Beaverton senior, Ryan Diamond, last winter and something he said has been stuck in my head since. Ryan has joined the military and will be heading to basic training at Fort Benning this summer.  He mentioned that one of the things he was most looking forward to this spring was hanging out with his friends and “making more memories.” Maybe you too can help some of our seniors make positive memories.

If you would like to participate you can forward a brief note to me and we will do our best to publish them in the coming weeks. It won’t take the place of the cancelled sports and activities, but it may help someone feel better. Focusing on a favorite team or athlete may also help you feel better for a while. Who knows?

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