Monday, March 25, 2013

The Best Day

On a crisp March weekend in this part of the country, it can only mean one thing, March Madness.  People frantically trying to fill out brackets, watching each game closely and cheering their favorite college team on.  This year though, in our little town, people were less concerned about their NCAA tourney bracket and focused on something greater.  We were playing for the Indiana High School State Championship.  Well wishes, players names and numbers, and red and black adorned yards and signs all across town.  Pep sessions, t-shirts, news stories, and articles in the paper put our town of 800 on the big stage for the first time.  People relished in the atmosphere, showed their pride and school spirit, and for the first time felt like something great was in our grasp, and that we finally would get our storybook ending. 

Driving up I 65 Saturday morning as the sun was coming up, my family and I were caravaning to the big game.  I have attended state finals before, but never to watch my hometown team.  I can remember seeing the other schools there, the excitement they had, and it only seemed like a dream that I would ever be there rooting on our beloved Braves. Now here we are, on our way to cheer on our team, it was our turn, and our time to shine.  Other cars passed us on the road, flags flying, horns honking.  Stopping at a rest area, seeing people donned in red and black giving each other high fives and hugs, the day had finally come for our team, our school, and our community. 

Hearing the roar of the crowd when the team took the floor, and listening to the sweet melody of "Back Home Again in Indiana" before the game started brought so much emotion to the surface. I am sure that emotion was palpable for everyone in the crowd who called Borden home.  From the tip off to the final horn, our kids played hard and confident.  They hit big shots and at times, it almost looked like the angels of Borden past were up there giving them a little tap, just at the right moment.  In the final seconds of the game when it was apparent we were going to win, I turned around and looked at the crowd. Thousands of people there for our team, our town.  The horn sounded, the team celebrated and I think that everyone from Borden had to wipe back the tears that flowed.  It was a moment of pure joy, a moment that I know I will never forget.  You see, I've said it before, and I will say it again,  it was about so much more than a game.  It was about a group of boys that while working together on one of the family's farm last summer decided that they were going to win a state championship.   It showed each kid in the crowd that with hard work and determination, the sky is the limit and that they too can do great things both on and off the court.  It showed the Borden community that years of rallying around and supporting the school, even when times weren't great was all worth it.  It showed everyone else what we have all known for a long time, that our community and school is relevant, that we have something special that is hard to find.  It showed that people of the past who are no longer with us, that their hard work and dedication to Borden and the school lives on and has not been forgotten.  It was amazing. It was the best day, and a moment I will cherish.

After the game the team headed to the bus carrying their state championship trophy to head back home. Amidst the charter buses of every other school there that day stood our little yellow bus. Our humble coaches and team carried the trophy onto the bus and headed south, having accomplished the goal that they and so many others have dreamed of long ago. They were welcomed home as heroes.  The town and surrounding communities stopped, and watched a parade of fire trucks, police cars, and fans ushering that little yellow bus down the highway into town.  People lined up by the road for miles, not only from Borden, but our neighbors who supported us along the way.  Tears flowed again because at that moment to everyone there, Borden was the center of the universe. It was a homecoming that even Hollywood couldn't orchestrate.

Some people say that this is the end to our fairytale, our Cinderella story, but I beg to differ.  It is the end to a chapter, a great chapter, and the story will go on, and these kids and this team will be legends, as they should be.   Not only did they represent what we are all about, but they brought a town together and solidified what we have always known. Our pillars of faith, family, and community are what makes this place so special.

There was a sign on the edge of town for years that said "Welcome to Borden, a small town with a big future".  They were right, and our future is bright.

I believe, I believe, I believe that we have won...STATE!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No place like home

Over the span of my thirty one years of life, I consider myself to be a very blessed person.  I have a loving God, wonderful husband, two beautiful children, an amazing extended family, church family, and friends.  I am educated, I love my profession, and I have a job that I enjoy.  Upon thinking about all of these things, one of the blessings that I am most thankful for is my hometown, the place where I grew up, and where my roots are firmly embedded. 

I'm sure when most people talk about their hometown, they feel a sense of pride and nostalgia.  It has a place in their hearts, it is special, it is home.  To some people Borden, Indiana is nothing more than a small dot, that doesn't even make some maps.  A town that consists of a caution light, one gas station, churches on every end of town, and most recently a coffee shop and a Subway (which is a big deal).  Our school is one building, consisting of students K-12.  People make the joke that if you blink when driving through town, you'll miss it!  This weekend our Boys Varsity Basketball team will make history, and will be playing in their first ever State Finals Championship game.  What most don't understand is that this weekend is about so much more than a basketball game. 

Borden is a community that usually only makes the news when tragedy strikes.  Whether it be an accident on Hwy 60 that intersects town, or tornadoes that have now affected our community for a third time, you rarely hear the good news about how wonderful this little farm town in the valley really is.

My roots go back multiple generations.  My parents, grandparents, and great grandparents have all called Borden home.  My Grandmother had either a child or grandchild in the Borden school for 50 years straight.  This is just one family, and there are many, many more.  It is a community that loves thy neighbor in every sense.  Last year when the tornado of March 2nd hit Daisy Hill, the community came together and helped those who were affected.  The Boy's Basketball team even helped with the clean up.  That is who we are, and that is what we do.  We love our school too. 

I can remember in elementary school saying the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before class started.  I think of teachers like Jo Ann Wright, where we would sing every day before class, even sing a special song about Borden, Indiana that she wrote.  Mrs. Wynn, she not only taught me, but she taught my parents too, as did so many other teachers.  Whether we sat in the pews next to them on Sunday morning, were friends with their own children, or they were our coaches , our teachers cared for each and every single one of us. Only now do I realize how wonderful that was, having to send my children to a school where I don't know who is influencing them.  It is very scary for me, and I long to have the feeling of community that I once had growing up in Borden and attending school there. 

I have lived in other places, and have traveled far and wide, and I can honestly say that there is no place like home.  On any given Friday night during basketball season, a town with a population of 800 will fill a gym that seats 2000 almost to capacity to watch a ball game. There is nothing better than watching the team roll into town accompanied by the fire truck after winning the big game, with a caravan of fans following in their cars, and people standing on their porches waving.  It isn't just something written for the Hollywood movie, "Hoosiers", it is a way of life here.   My grandpa said it best when he told us that he had been many places, but no place was better than the bottom of Daisy Hill.  Living in Louisville, I choose to drive 30 miles each Sunday morning, passing many churches along the way, just to go to my little country church that I grew up in, and that my parents and grandparents grew up in as well.  It is important that even though we don't physically live in the community because of circumstances beyond control, that my kids still feel at home there, and that the roots continue to grow deep in their hearts as well.

Whether you are a transplant, or whether you have shopped at Brewer's and Randall Martin's store, there is no better place.  Whether you picked berries on the hill for a nickel a gallon, hauled watermelons and cantaloupes for the Kirchgessners, or pitched hay for Frankie Brown, there is no better place. 

This Saturday our Boys will do something that Borden players of the past, both boys and girls have only dreamed of.  Finally we are not in the shadow of our larger neighboring schools, it is our chance to shine.  It has been a long time coming, and a foundation that was set decades ago.  A foundation that is strong, based on faith, family, community.  From Daisy Hill to Jackson Road, from Starlight to Martinsburg Knob.  From Deam Lake past Dow Knob, down the valley into town, the Borden faithful from far and wide will ascend on Indy and Bankers Life Fieldhouse to cheer on their beloved Braves.  Win or Loose, these kids and this community are winners.  We have grown up in such a wonderful place and have the privilege of calling it home.

  Alabama may have football, California may have surfers and sunbathers, but this is Indiana High school basketball, and it doesn't get much better than this!  In the words of Merle Webb in the movie Hoosiers,  "Let's win this game for all the small schools that never had a chance to get here." 

How bout them Braves?