From the Publisher

Hats off to Westwood Lady Jacks! (And School Sports Everywhere!)

I recently enjoyed the thrill of attending the Northern Section Division VI Girls varsity basketball game, held at Chico State for the championship match. Excitement was building on both sides of this ever-so-important high school finals competition. Westwood High School was taking on Mercy High School, of Redding, and the stands were filling fast. Loads of people made the over 150-mile round trip ride from Westwood, including parents, staff, retired Coach Bryant, and Westwood High alumni, who appreciated with anticipation the opportunity at hand. Mercy supporters were also out in full force.

The challenge was on, and both teams were doing an amazing job. The score board showed results of a close game right up to the end of this harrowing competition. Every girl on the court was working hard toward the same outcome–WINNING! The basketball season would soon end and for many, particularly the seniors; it would be the last chance to take home the title for their high school. With my oldest granddaughter among the competitors, I too was engrossed in the quest for that ultimate title. Two very determined groups of girls showed their skills across the court. It was obvious that each team had learned to play hard and follow the rules. These kids have learned that it takes extra hard work to achieve something they really want. They have accepted the discipline and dedication required to become winners. They have learned respect for their competitors, and have received respect from the communities they each represent.

The same little girls who I had seen attending birthday parties together since grade school in our small town, were now confident young women ready to go to battle for their school. I applaud every coach, assistant coach, car pool driver and helper who make school sports possible. The whole experience builds character, confidence and teaches the vital role of teamwork in any situation.

Our kids have been very lucky. Parents in our small town show tremendous support, and rise to the occasion every time to drive the kids sometimes to faraway locations, tally stats, and help raise the funds needed for team travel.

In the end, Westwood took the championship and we watched with tremendous pride as they did not hesitate to sing their Alma Mater at the end of their game. School spirit runs high in Westwood as I am sure it does in small towns all across America, thanks to the dedicated parents, teachers, coaches, staff, and community members who make it possible. Salute!