The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

June 7, 2014

A Vince Peluso column: Memories to be cherished...

COLUMBUS — When Edgewood’s Matt Fitchet realized he had clinched second place at the Division II state track and field meet in the shot put on Friday the first thing he did was come over to his supporters.

While he still had a throw to go, Fitchet came over to his father, who gave him a big hug and told his son, “I love you, I’m so proud of you.”

He hugged his mother, then Edgewood coach Jim Sanchez before telling everyone he was going to go let it go and try for a big throw on his final effort.

Not intending to intrude on a special moment between father and son, but the touching exchange brought to light one of the oft forgotten parts of this meet, and sports in general — family.

Perhaps this meet brings that more to the forefront because of the distance traveled.

Coaches, parents, athletics directors, teammates (often those who aren’t competing, such as Fitchet’s fellow Warriors Alex Spangler and Cortney Humphrey) make the 3-hour plus trek down to Columbus from Ashtabula.

It’s a sacrifice.

While so much is written about the sacrifice an athlete makes to qualify for an event such as this, it’s often the sacrifices of those around them that help carry them there.

Parents sacrifice countless amounts of time and money to help their sons or daughters get to the highest levels of sports.

Unfortunately, sometimes those lines are blurred and kids are pushed beyond their physical and mental abilities by their parents and crumble under that pressure.

But, that’s a column and discussion for another day.

In the case of Friday morning, the exchange between the Fitchets is one that is often seen down here.

The further you get in any sport, the more exhilarating the victory is and the more devastating the disappointment of the loss becomes.

Sadly, some athletes aren’t lucky enough to cross the line from the playing field to the stands and have a parent waiting for them to comfort them in defeat or celebrate in victory.

Still, the further you get in these OHSAA tournaments the more the support from family and friends is brought to the forefront.

In the past year, whether it was Madison football, Geneva and Pymatuning Valley girls basketball, Jefferson softball or the number of track athletes who qualified this weekend and traveled from their respective communities to watch their sons, daughter, friends or students compete, it has been a site to behold.

Fitchet won’t be the only athlete to have this type of exchange this weekend.

Whether in victory or defeat, each athlete who crosses from the grass to concrete this weekend will be looking for someone to hug whether it is in celebration or consolation.

The point of this writing?

To you parents who don’t desire to take the time out of your busy schedules to come support your athletes, try to do so. You might not realize the comfort seeing your face in the stands means to your sons and daughters, and how important that hug when the final horn blows can be.

And, for you athletes who take for granted having your parents up in the stands, take a page out of Fitchet’s playbook and give them a hug and tell them you love them.

You don’t have to wait for a state championship to do it, either.

Sometimes it’s their sacrifices on a Wednesday evening in the middle of winter that might be the reason why you’re hugging and telling them you love them on a sunny day in June.

Peluso is a sports writer for the Star Beacon. Reach him at vpeluso@starbeacon.com or follow him on Twitter @VPelusoSB.

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