Monday night our family trekked 60 miles north to watch the Cozad Haymaker Boy’s High School Basketball Team win the C1 District finals. Their success earns them a chance at the Nebraska State C1 Basketball title next week. My favorite farmer and I have been fans of our Haymaker basketball teams since moving back to Cozad in 1997, and this year the group of young men that represent our town have warmed my heart with an impressive search for excellence.
Like many small town basketball teams, the Haymaker squad is made up of a cross section of athletes that call many different sports their own. Each week during the long winter season, they don their Haymaker jerseys and take the court as their community cheers with passion.
The heart of our team is their ability to work together to achieve a common goal. The unselfish mental and physical support that they offer to one another is truly remarkable. They may not realize it, but this life skill is one that will bring them success for the rest of their lives.
On the morning of the big game, one of the mothers of the players posted these words on her Facebook page:
There is an “F” word that is often easily said, but can seem so impossible to express: Faith. At times it can be buried so deeply, we wonder if we will ever be able to unearth it again. Faith can be difficult to find when faced with disappointments, worries, and sadness. However, those same times can be replaced with encouragement, joy, and a feeling of being content. And it’s all because of that “F” word: Faith.
Tomorrow night, two towns will come together to cheer their basketball teams on, one more time, during the 2013-2014 season. For one team, their season will end. For the other, it will be extended to the state tournament next weekend. I’m certain the phrase, “Have faith,” has been spoken, but has it really been expressed?
To our Cozad players: I have faith in your God-given talents and abilities, and know you will let them shine tomorrow night. I have faith in your peers, and know they will be with you, either in the stands or back home listening to the radio broadcast. I have faith in your teachers, who even though may not verbally wish you good luck, will be anxiously awaiting the outcome. I have faith in our coaching staff, who may have frustrated you at times, but did so with the intention of getting out of you what was needed. I have faith in your families, who have been with you on this journey, and will continue to be, regardless of the final score. Finally, I have faith in your biggest supporter….Jacob….who will encourage you, cheer for you, and be so proud to be sitting beside you on the Cozad bench.
The mother’s son, Jacob, transitioned from a star player to a fledgling coach when he sustained a life changing knee injury on the football field last fall. While each one of our Haymaker athletes have given something special to our town this year, Jacob is my unspoken hero.
- It is his quiet presence that inspires bravery and unselfishness.
- It is his mature guidance that creates strength of character and resilience.
- It is his unwavering faith that guides his team to greatness.
Today I salute a special young man, a special team, and a special community. I count my blessings to be able to call Cozad home. It is in the heart of Rural America, and has a heart filled with people with tremendous faith.