Battle Mountain soccer and a writer’s neuroses
As a sports writer, I am meant to be a dispassionate unbiased observer, which is absolute hooey.
Of course, I root for our local high school teams. When the Devils, Gore Rangers, Huskies, and Saints win, it’s amazing how much our readers think I’m a “good” writer, writing “good” stories. When our teams lose, I’m an idiot, the bearer of bad news. (On Friday, I’m just rooting for a close game when Eagle Valley football visits Battle Mountain.)
I’ve gotten to know the coaches of the teams, in some cases having covered them as athletes when they were in high school, something that makes me feel proud and old simultaneously. As an only child, I have no idea how many siblings I’ve covered. We’re getting to the point where I am covering the offspring of “kids” I covered when I arrived here in 1997. That just makes me feel old.
So as we start/continue the playoffs this week, with the exception of 3A football, you bet your bippy I’m rooting for all four of our volleyball teams, everybody’s favorite 8-man football team and, yes, Huskies soccer.
And about that soccer team … I am not sure how I feel, even though we’re 17 blasted games into the season. Of course, I’m rooting for the team — the fellas, as coach David Cope might call them, are a joy to watch. I’m also in the neighborhood of my 40th season (boys since 1997 and girls since the early 2000s) working with Cope.
Yes, I want them to go all the way, but …
Think about the math
My brain is getting in the way. The rational part of me, even though the Huskies are already in the 4A quarterfinals playing Lewis-Palmer at 1 p.m. on Saturday, says that there is no way Battle Mountain soccer could possibly win the whole thing again.
It takes talent, hard work, timing and, yes, luck for a school like Battle Mountain to win a state title. Eagle Valley track and field in 2004 had Brad Gamble, Sean Matheson and company, once in a generation talents. (Heck, Gamble at 3A was his own track team in one person.)
Battle Mountain volleyball went to state in 2005, had the perfect alignment of no one graduating going into 2006 and a coach in Brian Doyon who was perfect for the situation at the time. The 2006 Huskies went 30-1, losing only to 5A Doherty in climbing to the top of the heap.
And, yes, in 2012, years of work, the right crew, the right experiences, say like losing to Evergreen three straight years in the playoffs and a coach who changed his style to the situation (yes, that same Cope guy) did the trick.
Everything clicked in 2012 for Huskies soccer, down to it snowing in Denver for the title game against Palmer Ridge. Heck, a team with an English-born coach won two shootouts in one postseason. (Thanks, Christian Espinoza.)
What are the odds of that happening again?
And I am trying to tell my brain to shut the hell up. First of all, the San Francisco Giants won the World Series three times. While I know that most of our readership doesn’t give a splat about my baseball team, it is proof that all things are possible.
More germane to the high school scene, I hear you Battle Mountain cross-country, a program with five state titles (2005, 2016 and 2017 for the ladies and 2006 and 2007 for the boys.)
What’s more, from my experience, sportswriters and coaches are more concerned with historical implications than the players. It’s a good bet that some of this year’s team caught a few games in 2012 as 11-year-olds or younger. Now a senior, Karsen Williams was a ball boy during that season.
But, otherwise, my bet is that Battle Mountain soccer couldn’t give two cents about how this team stacks up to 2012 or what the mathematical odds are for anything. Seriously, the team’s collective reaction to winning five straight 4A Slope titles — Huskies soccer has never done that before — was a collective, “meh.”
Please give me certainty
That said, I believe history repeats itself and I need to see the parallels.
What is fun about covering a ton of siblings and covering the kids of kids I covered is that alumni come back, and members of the 2012 team have been at games through the years.
There is quite a bit of smack talk among those guys, and they’ve earned the right. As a reporter, a winning team is fun, but a winning and witty one is even better, and that squad had some all-time smart alecs.
But when you cut through the you-know-what and talk to them about 2012 and the years building up to it, the common theme was Evergreen. After losing to Evergreen for the third time in the playoffs, it just wasn’t happening again. The team made a collective decision that it was going to win the whole darn thing again.
While we normally vetch about postseason seeding — this year, CHSAA did well — when the 2012 bracket came out and the Huskies were No. 6 and Evergreen No. 3, everyone in Battle Mountain’s camp knew what was going to happen in those quarterfinals. It did and the rest is legend.
So my neurotic, historically-driven question which provides a neat parallel with the past to assure me that everything’s going to end happily: Was the Kennedy loss, the Huskies’ first-round exit last October, “the Evergreen,” the driving motive of this year’s team?
If so, we may be onto something. We find out starting on Saturday. I’ll be the crazy one on the sideline.