Maine sports fans have enjoyed multiple years of title success. At this joyous moment, the Red Sox come to mind. Nor do the Patriots disappoint. But we must not overlook our own Hancock County athletes. These are boys and girls putting everything they’ve got into every game, every play. And, as many local fans recently experienced, they have much to teach us about the true nature of sports and sportsmanship.
Student athletes from Ellsworth and MDI recently competed for the regional girls’ cross-country championship in Belfast. A scoring error, mere fractions of a second, resulted in the title initially being awarded to MDI. To the credit of the Maine Principals Association, the unfortunate error was discovered and corrected. The correction designated the Ellsworth girls’ team victorious.
MPA officials notified the respective schools’ athletic directors in an early-morning phone call. Ellsworth’s Josh Frost and MDI’s Bunky Dow were then faced with dramatically contrasting tasks. Telling their teams about the scoring mix-up, they took the title from one group of athletes and delivered the trophy to their rivals.
Among the great lessons of competition is students learning about unity of purpose and teamwork, striving to improve oneself, respect for your competition, but also how to compete and succeed. All character-building, life-enriching attributes.
While disappointment (depending on the team and the day) visited both the MDI and EHS athletes, their families and supporters, the students showed maturity and understanding while controlling an emotional roller-coaster. Coaches demonstrated leadership and pride in their teams. The Ellsworth athletes did not gloat, recognizing the sportsmanship of sacrifice and integrity. MDI parents even congratulated Ellsworth’s student athletes as meet champions.
Buoyed by their character, their team spirit, their individual pride, the Ellsworth girls’ cross-country team then went out and won the State Class B Title this past weekend.
This story knows no boundaries. Comment and congratulations have been received from beyond our borders, bringing credit to these two communities, but also recognition to kids who tried their best, demonstrating the character that we all wish to see, while striving to win. These kids and their coaches acted more like adults than many of the people in leadership roles in our society. In the end, character counts, in sports and in life.
MDI Athletic Director Bunky Dow summed up the story best: “Sports has a uniquely human way of making us all better. This story is a lesson for us all.”