The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat

Let’s get the worst out of the way, first. I went to the track yesterday, a last chance for foolishness at Fairmount’s “horse hookey,” the last matinee racing before the start of the school year. At this point in my personal education, I know enough to get myself in trouble at a horse track. There’s something about the same horses, the same riders, the same ticket takers, the same beer vendors, the same scenes played out over an entire summer that make you think you’ve got it figured it. But you don’t. That’s the worst place to be, in the realm of half-knowledge. That nebulous place in which you feel you can work some kinda angle, but you can’t.

You’re a sucker. And when you can’t afford to lose $30 and you lose $30, at least you know you’re a sucker.

At that point, you need a pick-me-up.

And, as sports go, on any level, you can hook into the crushing lows and jubilant highs.They come and they go.

Yesterday afternoon, still mulling over those failed straight exactas and boxed trifectas, the word came in and the word was good.

All four kids that I coached last fall, now heading into their freshman years of high school and trying out for their respective soccer teams, made said teams. Four-f0r-four and I couldn’t be happier!

Three cheers to all these lads, who I’ll be following this fall:

Kyle Davis, Dubourg

Jordan Griffin, Saint Louis University High

Sean Groh, Gateway Tech

Dashawn Wilson, St. Mary’s

My high school experience was marred by moments that went the other way, by sheets of paper posted to a wall without my name. And I don’t, for a second, assume that these kids (and the boys that didn’t try out for teams this fall, but spent countless hours on South Side soccer fields over the last seven years with me) have it made, now that they’ve simply cracked a roster. But I always wanted them to have a chance at some successes in high school. I’m happy, satisfied, pleased as punch to have played a bit of a role in these cats improving their games over the years. And all did, noticeably.

I might be banning myself from pro sports for the time being, but I’m suddenly a local prep fan. Gotta fill those late-afternoon hours somehow, and living vicariously is a healthy and affordable way to go.