As the fall season starts to draw to a close, we finally start playing meaningful games. I'm talking league games. Games that decide who goes to the playoffs, games that decide bragging rights for the next 50 years, games against opposing players that kids grew up playing with as teammates on various club teams and want to decide once and for all who is more valuable. These games are so much more fun to watch and they have an added emphasis that you don't get everywhere else.
I’ve lived in a big city and watched high school sports in them and there just isn't quite the same atmosphere. Sure sometimes the kids know each other, and sometimes there is passion present, but there is something uniquely special about knocking someone out of the playoffs who you know you will continue to see at the grocery store or at the gym or at the park for the rest of your life. There is an added “oomph” when you not only know the name of the opposition’s best player, but also their grandma’s name and that their brother works at the Vons down the street and has a hilariously bad tattoo. These things matter.
Being able to use a “yo momma” joke* that you know will slice them up like a hot knife through butter leads to a double fist pump after hitting that perfect serve or catching the winning touchdown instead of the meager, often mocked, single fist pump. The final few weeks of league are upon us and the matchups are looking more and more fun.
The Bearcats football team came into league with most people writing them off, and why shouldn't they? They are on their second coach this year, their third quarterback — and not just any quarterback, but a sophomore quarterback that started the year on the JV — and they just returned from a 41-3 drubbing at the hands of Sierra Canyon. But this is why it's so awesome. The Bearcats headed to AG this past Friday and beat down the 4-2 Eagles who were the favorites in league and are now, themselves, the favorite and in the driver's seat in the PAC 5. That sophomore quarterback is Hunter Barnhart who has already received Division 1 offers for baseball (after only his freshman season) and looked unstoppable on Friday throwing for 100 yards and running for 100 yards.
The Greyhounds and Bearcats tennis teams play this Thursday and there has been some slight trash talk going back and forth between the teams (in the most polite way possible I must add, both coaches are sweethearts but I can read between the lines). Atascadero won the first match a few weeks back, dropping the Bearcats to fourth in league and leading the Paso coach to comment on the Greyhounds unique home court advantage (really close fences). The Atascadero coach responded, talking about their recent success against Paso (on Paso’s court's mind you. A nice, subtle jab) and talked about the Greyhounds also using the match to prepare for league finals, which will also be held in Paso. It is fantastic in every single way. It's why I love doing this.
Furthermore, the Atascadero vs. Paso Robles water polo game was canceled and rescheduled a week ago because someone threw a bag of dog poop in the pool. I repeat, someone threw a bag of dog poop in the pool. That’s so magically mischievous that I'm not even angry about it, but you don't get that in LA... or maybe you do, but it is funnier here. First of all, I have so many questions. What size of dog did they choose to be the pooping perpetrator? Have you seen the fences around the pool? That kid must have swung that bag over his/her head like Wonder Woman and her lasso to get enough velocity to launch it over the barriers and perfectly into the water.
These last final weeks will be filled with added enthusiasm and I recommend attending some local sporting events. There are no college teams or pro teams around here so we have to embrace what we have. That is probably the main part of what makes it so fun. So if you haven't had the chance to catch a volleyball game, a tennis match, a water polo game or even a football game, I challenge you to do so. It might not be the highest level of competition but if you can manage to not take yourself so seriously (and what you are watching) I can promise you will be entertained and will see raw, genuine emotion and have a fun, family-friendly time.
*I do not condone the use of “Yo Momma” jokes, but I have heard my fair share in the heat of battle and felt it relevant to the story*