Support our student-athletes

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

For many, fall means football, and based on my Facebook feed alone, it appears as if almost every single one of my friends has a favorite team they're following. Whether it be Arkansas, Missouri or even KU, diehard football fans are a breed apart. And from my days at Mizzou, I can tell you there's nothing more fun than putting on the black and gold and tailgating with friends outside Faurot Field.

That same college game day feel arrives at towns all over the country on Friday nights, and that experience is amplified for Cassville football fans. The Wildcat fan base, known as The Wildcat Nation, is unrivaled. Wherever the Wildcats play, they bring with them a huge contingent of dedicated fans, who usually outnumber the home crowd. Additional seating was even added at Wildcat Stadium this past summer to accommodate the huge number of fans who turn out for games played at Cassville.

The Friday night football experience in Cassville is something most area residents have experienced, and I'm thrilled there is that level of excitement out there for high school football. I also hope locals will get out and support the other fall sports where student-athletes are working hard to make Cassville proud on the softball and soccer fields, the volleyball court and the cross country course.

I use the term student-athlete to describe our young Wildcats and Lady Wildcats, because I want to emphasis the fact that our young people must first and foremost focus on their education. The Cassville R-4 School District is providing a first-rate education for its students with a high graduation rate and the large majority of its seniors are going on to two-year or four-year colleges.

This Saturday, I had the opportunity to hear Steve Harold, the coach of the Drury Lady Panthers basketball team, speak to a crowd in Purdy, and I was very impressed with his emphasis. He, of course, spoke of his team's success on the basketball court, which is impressive, but he took equal pride in publicizing his team's overall GPA of 3.59, which was third best in the nation. For him, pursuing a good education was just as important as pursuing a win, and as a result, his team is highly successful.

Now don't get me wrong, sports are an important part of the high school experience. Young people learn important life lessons when they take the field. They learn about hard work, discipline and team work, and for some, sports keeps them in school and motivates them to keep their grades up so they can play. Sports and academics work hand in hand, and I would love to see the excitement that is exhibited at Cassville home football games translate into enthusiastic support for the academic programs at Cassville as well.

And if you're wondering how you can support those programs, let me point out a perfect opportunity that is coming up next week. The Cassville Education Fund is sponsoring a Homecoming golf tournament and luncheon on Friday, Sept. 30 at the Cassville Golf Course. The event is a great way to enhance the Cassville homecoming experience and to donate to a wonderful cause. The Cassville Education Fund is a permanent endowment established to benefit educational needs at the Cassville R-4 School District. Grants are awarded from the fund to support specific academic programs at the school. Sign up to play in the tournament or you can always go online to http://cassvilleeducationfund.org/ and make a donation anytime.

Lisa Schlichtman