A Valieant sense of justice and those LVHS girl hoopers

This is an exciting time of the year for many prep athletes.

On Wednesday, we began the signing period for football and soccer athletes, and we saw a number of kids from Basehor-Linwood, Lansing and Leavenworth high schools sign at a number of schools and a young man from Pleasant Ridge is heading to the University of Saint Mary.

The great thing about times like these is that it provides proof of the time and sacrifice put in by these young men and women – no they are not children – has paid off.

It doesn’t mean that someone who gets a scholarship offer to a Big 12 school worked more than someone going to a small college in the sticks. In many cases it just may be a matter of talent and in others just fitting the need of a school that happened to see you play compared to those who didn’t and wouldn’t know one way or another.

Some people believe that an academic scholarship is so much more impressive than an athletic one and despite my strong commitment to getting smart, I completely disagree with this narrative.

Why? Well, it’s simple. We are born to learn.

Yep, the secret it out. It takes more talent to not learn things than to learn things.

Unless someone is sadly saddled with an ailment or genetic condition that keeps them from evolving their own intellect, learning is not a talent.

Those who think it is are just trying to give a participation ribbon to someone showing up to the party called life.

Of course the great thing about academic success is that no one truly likes every subject and therein lies the special talent of a strong student. It’s not the “A” you get in the classes you enjoy, but more about the “B” or even a “C” in the subject that one absolutely loathes.

Therein lies the ability to rise up and say “I may not like this, but I need to do it to succeed.”

Those are the people who if the chips are down, they can take a job doing something they hate – and do it well – because they need to to survive.

But to discount athletic achievement that parlays into a chance for a college degree is absurd.

Yep. We were born to tackle, be tackled, control our bodies while dunking a basketball, lifting ridiculous amount of weights, contort our body on a wrestling mat, do crazy tumbles in gymnastics – daily?

Can we do them? Sure. But you have work at it to just be able to be decent at it, work more to be good and go nuts to be great.

In some ways, you have to do more against your body’s natural, daily inclination to be an athlete than to just sit, shush and learn.

Bravo to you college athletes.

However...

The one thing that saddens me is the growing trend of athletes that decide they’d rather sit on the bench at a school so they can say “I am on the team at big-time school” instead of maybe actually playing.

More and more are worried more about prestige of being a bench warmer at a Big 12 instead of being an All-American at Northwest Missouri State.

What makes it even more laughable, the ones who believe they can play pro ball, believe that only going to a D1 program ensures that possibility.

Not the case.

In sports like soccer, basketball and even football to a lesser degree, thousands of players from sub-D1 schools play for money all over the world.

So, why take the risk of sitting the pine and never see time, compared to letting everyone know how good you are by dominating a strong D2 or NAIA level?

Trust me, there are a number of D2 programs in many sports that could probably beat the bottom third or more of the D1 schools.

 

Justice

Ah, those silly, little Kaw Valley League girls’ soccer coaches.

If you recall, their sensitive personalities were so offended by a high school being more competitive than them that despite Lansing’s Brittany Valieant not being a dirty player, decided to leave arguably the league’s best all-around player off the All-League teams.

That was cute then and now it’s just too funny.

Valieant signed with Rockhurst University’s program, one that went 17-3-2 in one of the elite NCAA D2 conferences and also qualified for the NCAA Tournament.

Rockhurst has been one of the consistently top programs for years and they must have really been desperate to get a kid not good enough to make the KVL’s all-league team, huh?

Or maybe they are just a ton smarter than coaches who claim it’s about the kids and not about themselves?

Way to go, Miss Valieant. We will miss her, since she has decided to skip her senior year in high school to play competitive club soccer in preparation for the college game.

Yep, sounds like a so-so player to me.

 

Pioneer girls

I got to admit that I knew the Leavenworth High girls’ basketball team would be good again, especially with Run ATZ back in the fold (that’s Aarika Lister, Terrion Moore and Zoie Hayward for those not in the loop).

But to have gone 13-1 to start the season and with some big wins over some big teams (St. Thomas Aquinas) is not what I would have predicted at this point.

Why? Well, they needed a lot of young players to step up and boy, have they ever.

A number of sophomores have come out showing some nasty dispositions (and that’s a compliment) that tell of a willingness to get after it and not back down to their elder opponents.

They are faster as a team this year and that aids what is a very good defensive philosophy.

Now, they are starting to hit five or six 3s from outside in games and that will be key, because a lack of a consistent outside game likely denied them a three-peat last spring.

There is no team I have respected more than this bunch in all my years of doing this job.

Way to go, ladies. Feel proud but not satisfied.

Topeka awaits.

Alan Dale is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at adale@leavenworthtimes.com