It’s amazing what a little bit of normalcy can do to your outlook.
I got a call from William Chrisman activities director Greg McGhee asking if I could attend two signing ceremonies at the high school this week.
They were honors graduates Antonio Cruse, who will run track and cross country at Central Methodist University, and pole vaulter Reana Lagrone, who signed with Lindenwood University.
It took about half a second to say yes.
Thursday was my 38th anniversary at The Examiner and over that span, I have covered countless signing ceremonies, but none were quite as impactful as those at Chrisman.
Can you imagine what it’s been like, being a sports writer and columnist with no games to cover? It’s been a time in my life that has been filled with anxiety, money concerns and that feeling of dread when I think of all the lives that have been lost and all the student-athletes who missed out on one final hurrah.
But on Wednesday and Thursday, I was actually covering an event, and the joy on the faces of everyone in the two families made it even more special.
So thank you Greg McGhee for the invite. It was the best “signing” party I’ve been to in quite a while.
• I hope you had the opportunity to read the feature in Thursday’s Examiner on Chrisman graduate Sam Hawley, a young man who embodies every quality you would want in a student-athlete.
I asked Jason Grubb, the tennis coach, to give me a few thoughts on Hawley, and he jokingly apologized for “the novel” he wrote.
I used a bit of his commentary in the Hawley feature, but here are a few more thoughts on the young man they call Mr. William Chrisman.
Grubb had this to say:
“Sam is the ultimate citizen. He’s so giving to others and kind and genuine that it’s hard not to envy him. He really puts forth his best attitude daily. And he seeks opportunities to lead others by example not by fame-seeking. My two favorite examples for his selflessness explain why I think he is the best representative Chrisman’s ever had.
“After his sophomore year he knew that we graduated the top 10 players from a tennis team of 17 and that he would be the highest returning rank. However, he would always ask me questions about how to motivate his teammates while not infringing on their self confidence. He would ask about ways to get teammates together to bond. I told his dad immediately after that season that even though there were returning five or six soon-to-be seniors, Sam was going to be the captain as a junior.
“So we found ways for him to lead drills and stuff and we’d fade back and let him earn the respect/trust of his teammates.
“Since the quarantine started, Sam has started a Twitter explosion of school spirit on a daily basis. Sam was behind it all. He and those amazing STUCO (student council) advisors at Chrisman have bumped up the positivity about being a Bear to a point I didn’t think it could go, after we’ve had so many great STUCO presidents over the past few years who’ve gone on to do great things in college. Sam raised the bar with his digital presence as well as in person.
“And finally, after college at Northwest Missouri State University, I plan on Sam coming back to Chrisman. We’d be crazy not to hire him back to teach math, coach basketball and tennis. I’m pretty positive he could coach or teach anything and make it look effortless. Finally, I know he wants to be an athletic director. But I don’t think Greg McGhee is going anywhere. But any school who hires him at that point will have found an absolute gem for an AD. Lastly, when he’s older I expect him to still give me one heck of a stressful tennis match when we play against each other.”
What a welcome relief to get back to some normalcy. It never felt so good.
– Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-350-6333. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC