Up to The Mountain
This is the moment you’ve waited for.
Yes, I’m talking to you, Sheffield Wolverines.
I won’t rehash over my connection to the school and football team over the years, but let’s just chalk it up to almost two decades of play or coverage. However, this past year has certainly been the most tumultuous.
Just to recap, the 2017 season — which would go on to be former head coach Dave Fitch’s last — ended on an embarrassing note, with officials calling the game with over five minutes left due to a “hostile playing environment,” to be kind.
Not long after the finale, Fitch resigned, and Chris Korbar would become head coach.
The transition, into the height of the summer, brought some heat, as the issue of participation and player safety began to rear its ugly head yet again.
The issue was finally put to bed — for now — during a meeting with Warren County School District administrators in July, as the Wolverines appeared to have the numbers and enthusiasm to go forward with the 2018 season.
This brings us to now — game day.
I’ve followed with grounded optimism the offseason workouts of the Wolverines, and to me, it seems as if everything we were promised in July has been kept true. Participation, enthusiasm, pride, spirit, and intensity are all very clearly on display. Which, for Sheffield athletes, faculty, parents, and alumni, should be nothing more than the first step in the process.
It’s not to negate what has been accomplished in such a short period of time, but once the clock starts today, none of that will matter.
For the Wolverines, the true test of their dedication and belief in the system will start at kickoff. It’s easy to begin something, to hype yourselves up to the public, but to back it up and finish it, that is the true challenge.
I’m not entirely positive if I’m writing this as a reminder to the players of just what they are fighting for, to the parents and families to continue to support and encourage their children, or to the community as a whole to understand that once you lose football, you essentially have lost The Mountain.
I, personally, don’t know what would have happened if the Wolverines and the Sheffield community didn’t show up the way they did in July. I, like many, can make educated guesses. If Sheffield truly came close to a varsity football co-op this summer, then that makes this season the only one that matters. There is no planning for next year, or worrying about the past. I feel Sheffield football will either live or die by the season of 2018.
I will be brutally honest. I thought in October of 2017 that I had most likely covered my last Sheffield football game. Not because I didn’t want to continue, but rather because I saw the negativity surrounding an already hurting sport in the community. Yet, here I am, prepping for the season opener, writing this column. At the very least, from what I have witnessed over the last two months, the 2018 Sheffield Wolverines will not go down without a fight.
It could be nothing more than convenience, or maybe it has entirely to do with the colors on their jerseys, but possibly and, in my opinion, more accurately, it’s the desire to control their own destiny that will make this team sprint up the same steps that generations have before them.
Only this time, they do so aware that there is much more on the line than wins and losses.
Today, they set out to save The Mountain.
Cody has been a sports reporter and writer for ten years. His inspiration and motivation have come from all walks of life, including his own. He can be reached at email@example.com.