A middle school track championship meet in North Carolina ended in controversy a few weeks ago. Two teams, Eppes and Wellcome, in a tight competition for the Championship. Their first year with track in the county, 2015, saw Wellcome defeating Eppes throughout the regular season. At the Championship, Eppes finally got a win over Wellcome and placed second by 4 points while Wellcome placed 3rd. 2016 the two traded victories throughout the regular season but Wellcome edged out Eppes in the Championship by 1 point. With back-to-back 2nd place finishes, Eppes was hungry to finally reach the top.
Once again the championship meet came down to the wire, both teams placing top 3 in several events. As it was in previous years this one was going to be decided by a handful of points. Then the Eppes coach was notified of a disqualification that would cost them the championship and given them a third consecutive 2nd place finish. The disqualification was ruled for a shot putter not wearing a jersey, but with the size of Eppes’ team growing from 28 athletes in 2015 to 45 in 2017 they did not have enough jerseys for all their athletes.
The coach argued the disqualification until it was brought to a vote among the coaches. When asked to reinstate the shot putter, who would have placed 3rd and earned 5 points, only 1 coach raised his hand. That was the coach for Wellcome. The other 7 coaches voted to uphold the disqualification which meant that Wellcome won the championship for a 2nd consecutive year, beating Eppes by 3 points.
After a lengthy appeal of the disqualification, Eppes’ shot putter was reinstated and Eppes and Wellcome were named co-champions. The next day the Eppes coach received this email from the Wellcome coach:
“I just wanted to congratulate you. My AD told me what happened at their meeting. I thought it was wrong how you were penalized for a small thing. I am happy for you and glad we are co-champions together. I will miss our friendly competition every year. This is the end of an era. Congratulations!”
In an era when youth sports have gotten overly competitive and many coaches/parents have a win or quit attitude, it is good to see there are still coaches out there in it for the right reasons. At the end of the day trophies, medals, championships, and records don’t matter. A new season will come and go with success and failure, new athletes replace those who left, records will fall and trophies will collect dust. But to the individual who was apart of something special and worked hard to find success, they will carry that for a lifetime. Their experiences with sports can have a great impact on the person they become. Be a coach that works at making their athletes better people as well as better athletes. Lead them by example and teach them that winning is not everything. Teaching an athlete how to be a successful person will go much further than winning a championship.
Stay tuned for the full story of the Eppes track team, From Inception to Champions, coming soon to Wing Span Sports.