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Thank You: 1AD2 Fans, Coaches and Players
An open letter to the 1AD2 fans, coaches and players written by Lance Taylor, the play-by-play broadcaster for the 1AD2 girls state tournament played last weekend.
Published: 2/25/2014 1:32:09 PM

Article by: Lance Taylor - 1AD2 Girls State Tournament Broadcaster
(Editor's note: Lance came on with us last fall and has been doing a fantastic job broadcasting games in eastern Idaho. This was his first state basketball tournament as an broadcaster. We hope to have him around for many more years to come.)

What a tremendous girls state tournament this past weekend at Nampa High School, host of the 1A-D2 girls state basketball championships. As a former athlete, coach, fan and current broadcaster I have been involved in many sporting events throughout the years.  I have never been as impressed by such class and sportsmanship as I was during this intense event.  During this three day period, fans, coaches and players displayed what positive effects athletic competition can bring. 

From the first game to the last, fans cheered for their respective teams with a hope of victory.  In the end, each game only allows for one team to move forward toward the ultimate goal and early on Saturday morning Dietrich stood proudly holding their fourth consecutive state championship trophy (a feat only accomplished by one other girls team at any school size in Idaho).  However, the story of the 1A- D2 tournament went much deeper than the wins and losses. 

Sports, world-wide, is riddled with poor fan behavior, dirty play between athletes, disdain from one community towards another, and a media that unfortunately too often rewards the spectacle of poor sportsmanship.  This past weekend I witnessed the direct opposite.  The Nampa High School gymnasium was loaded with people who follow sports for all the right reasons.  Certainly nobody wants to find their team down on the scoreboard when the final seconds tick off the clock.  We ache for our team alongside neighbors and friends knowing the dedication and hard work just to get where they are and seeing that come to an end can be difficult. 

However, this past weekend as games became final, fans from both teams were on their feet cheering.  Players would shake hands on the court to wish congratulations.  I would watch as fans (many of which were parents) would take the time to shake the hands and pat the backs of opposing players and coaches.  Certainly there were periodic calls that brought frustration or the occasional fan that got a little exuberant with a complaint, but it was drowned out by those caught up in the big picture of the competition.  Teams won and lost with class and respect.
I spoke to coach Baxter and a couple of players from Council after their second loss.  Rather than complaints I heard a coach filled with gratitude for the opportunity to come to state after a long absence and what great things the future had in store for his program.
Lighthouse Christian experienced their first trip to the girls state tournament in the history of the school and displayed some of the most positive support I have ever seen (This was capped by taking home the much deserved sportsmanship banner). I spoke to parents of a Lighthouse Christian player that was absent from the tournament due to an opportunity to further her life experience in a foreign country. These proud parents wore a button with their daughter’s picture and made the trip from Twin Falls to Nampa to show tremendous support for their “Lady Lions”.

Most are aware of the difficult trials faced by Dietrich head coach Acey Shaw that has left him with severe physical limitations including being wheelchair bound.  His resolve and attitude are reflected in their players and fan base as you can watch and witness the love and admiration they have for him.  He is a tremendous coach and surrounded himself with assistants that are of high character. 

Rockland is a small town that some of the finest people in Idaho call home.  After falling to Dietrich by a last second three pointer they shed some tears and quickly focused on what could be accomplished the following morning and did so capturing the third place state trophy.

Kendrick boasts one of the best individual players (if not the best) in the state at the 1A-D2 level in Abby Smith. In my opinion, she would start for any program in the state regardless of school size.  They battled hard as a team and Ron Ireland coached with as much dignity and professionalism of any I have ever known.

Tri-Valley had a number of fans that stood close to where my fellow broadcaster and myself were announcing the games.  I loved their passion and commitment to their team.  Never once did I hear any of them berate an official or opposing player. 

Mackay is a program that is well known in the state and was coming off a consolation championship in the 2013 tournament with the hope of improving on that this year.  They did so by reaching the championship game.  Numerous times throughout the tournament I witnessed a Mackay player help an athlete off the floor from the opposing team after a loose ball scramble or simple fall.  I even had the opportunity to speak with the father of a Mackay player that I competed against in high school but had not seen in over 25 years. 

Finally, Nezperce. This was the team that found a way to make every game they played exciting.  I loved their passion to play and hard work on the floor (also off the floor as they took home the academic state championship trophy with a combined 3.883 GPA, WOW!!!!!!).  After not making the state tournament for many years they made the most of their trip by taking home the consolation trophy.

I want to end by simply saying thanks to the 1A-D2 fans, teams and coaches for being an example of sportsmanship.  You are giving your young athletes the best opportunity to benefit from the many lessons that can be learned through athletic competition.  You enhanced my experience and through that I have acquired tremendous collective respect for you. 

I look forward to seeing many of you again next week in Caldwell for the Boys state tournament.  Stay just as you are, your example will carry-on long after the wins and losses have been forgotten. 

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