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COLUMN: Nothing middling about the Mustangs

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Big deals now can be even bigger

By John Herndon

There has been nothing middling about the Anderson County Mustangs this fall.

At least when it comes to sports teams there's been nothing middling.

Absolutely nothing.

Everything has been first class.

Itt has been a time of joy. A time of excitement and a time to celebrate.

In case you have missed it, the Mustang football team finished 12-2 and was runner-up in the state tournament. The boys' soccer team went 8-2-1. A newer team, archery, was invited to go to Disney World for the world championships of the National Archery in the Schools Program.

All they did was win it.

And then there is the Mustangs' girls' basketball program. The three teams, representing each of the three grades, are a combined 72-1 this fall. The Lady Mustangs have to be one of the favorites to take the state championship next month in Lexington.

It has been a fall of good crowds and painted faces. From adults.

Face it. When was the last time you ever saw that at a middle school game?

The successes have been so numerous that we might just need to sit back and enjoy the precious present. After all, even though they still have at least four years to go before high school graduation, the players on those teams will never be completely together again.

Enjoy. The Mustangs deserve it. What they have done is a big, big deal for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders or anyone for that matter.

But let's also remember that as good as the Mustangs have been, it would be a disservice to the kids to view this fall as the end of a journey.

In fact, it is one of the early steps.

There are people whose feathers might get ruffled, but the truth is that middle school prepares kids for high school. It doesn't matter if  we're talking about history or hoops, first downs or the first person. One of the main missions of middle school is to prepare students for the next level.

Anderson Middle School football coach Chris Glass seemed to be saying that to the Mustangs in his final post-game speech of the season Sunday evening in Lexington. The tears had been shed because the Mustangs had learned to be competitors. They gave everything they had. But to a competitor, losing, even to a team that clearly has more weapons and is better than he is, still hurts.

But before those tears had a chance to dry, Glass said he had watched many of the Mustangs grow up, then issued a challenge. “I told them that if they really work at it and get in the weight room, they can be contenders for a state championship in the next four years," he said.

Glass was talking about the high school state champion, of course.

“You look at Bowling Green (which had just beaten Anderson 34-6) and they are a little farther along than we are,” Glass said. “Some of those kids look like they have been in the weight room.”

What Glass was pointing out is the fact that success can be fleeting. Things change.

Athletically, any number of things can happen. Kids transfer in and out. Some kids decide they want to concentrate on another sport. Some get hurt. Others burn out.

Some kids grow. Others stop growing. And, of course, some unfortunately stop studying.

And some counties do things differently. In football, for example, one conference rival (East Oldham) sends graduates to a pair of high schools. Some high schools have two (or more) middle schools serving as feeders.

So, a great middle school (you name the sport) team no more guarantees high school championships any more than a stellar report card is a ticket to success in the business world. The difference between middle school and high school can be enormous in the classroom and on the playing field.

But what the great team and great report cards share in common is an indicator of potential.

What I know is that what the Mustangs have accomplished in all of their fall sports is a very big deal.

But, I've also been in this business to know that through hard work and attention to little things, even bigger deals can be a part of the future.

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.