I don’t know about you, but for me, there are often things floating around in my ritualistic vocabulary that don’t get paid a second thought. They roll off the tongue naturally. Habitually.
But every once in a while, one of those tried-and-true cliches, phrases, quotes or what have you makes you stop and think.
It happened to me not long ago.
“You don’t know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been.”
While preparing for our department’s recent installment of The Best in Show series, those exact words shuffled through my head on repeat.
Being new to the Hancock County sports landscape, I couldn’t escape the obvious fact: I was in no position to say who was the best. I wasn’t here for any of it.
Obviously, there was a moment of panic. What was I going to write? Was this team or this athlete really the best? Where do I even begin?
Then I remembered something indisputable that immediately calmed my nerves. I am a sports fan, especially of Indiana high school sports.
I’ve been studying the entire region most of my career. I was already well aware of the high-profile athletes here within the county line. But wide brush strokes weren’t going to cut it, and I knew it.
So with my journalistic instincts in full gear, I went to work, catching up on everything I missed. What I discovered left me humming a new tune.
“The grass really is greener.”
Hancock County sports is truly a diamond in the rough, as if I needed to tell you. Like most counties in the Hoosier State, there are exceptional student-athletes and programs, but who else can tout the overall consistency this area produces year in and year out.
The first thing that piqued my interest was New Palestine. What a juggernaut this school has become.
With sectional titles earned in girls golf (and a 12th-place finish at state), boys soccer, (back-to-back in) girls soccer, baseball, gymnastics (followed by a sixth-place state finale) and boys tennis; the undefeated Class 4A state championship football team simply propelled the school right to the top.
Not to mention incoming senior Chad (C.J.) Red, who still has one final act left as he attempts to become only the third undefeated four-time wrestling state champion in state history.
It would be negligent to overlook the Greenfield-Central Cougars, who are loaded with young and potential breakout talent at every angle.
Greenfield-Central’s Zachariah Bishop, an incoming senior, nearly ran himself to a state finals berth in cross-country last year and just might do it this fall.
Cougars do-it-all sophomore sensation Maddie Wise is just getting started as a multi-sport star in both basketball and track, where he is already a repeat state qualifier.
Enrique Ferrara is one soccer player I don’t want to miss in his senior season.
The husband-and-wife coaching tandem of Mark and Emily Logan have the Cougars swimming and diving programs sailing on course for sustained success. Five straight boys swimming sectional titles and two in a row for the girls speak volumes.
Coach Jason Stewart and the Cougars softball team could take it to another level after setting the school record for wins in a single season and taking home the sectional this past spring with only one senior in the lineup.
Mt. Vernon “should have” the county’s all-time leading scorer in girls basketball and a potential Indiana All-Star in Sydney Shelton this winter.
The Marauders girls tennis team in a word has been “dominant.” Consecutive county and sectional team titles conjure words like that.
Oliver Mast has the skill to join an elite level in his final two golf seasons. Mt. Vernon’s boys swimming team and Christian Noble in boys track aren’t going anywhere but up either.
With Jim O’Hara at the helm for the sectional champion Eastern Hancock football team and now Shari Doud in charge of the girls basketball team, the same can be said for the Royals.
Speaking of which, Jerry Cain and his coaches at Eastern Hancock have the Royals girls track team breaking new ground every season.
State-place winning shot putter Kaycee Ruble and three consecutive Mid-Hoosier Conference team titles are evidence of this.
What a year it was. I wish I was here to see it, but now I know. And I can’t wait to see where it takes all of us in 2015-16.
Rich Torres is the Daily Reporter’s sports editor. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.