Behind the lines…Onward towards the sun…

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    “They come and they go, Hobbs, they come and they go,” so says sportswriter Max Mercy to middle-aged phenomenon Roy Hobbs in the baseball classic “The Natural.”

    Cynical, jaded, and with an all-knowing perspective on sports, specifically baseball, Mercy was spot on in his assessment.


    I witness it every year about this time.

    After covering the youth of Fremont County for another cycle, the seniors leave the stage. Many times, I never see them again, but sometimes, they become friends and I get the privilege of watching them as they carve their place in the world.

    My late friend Harold Bailey had a saying about teenage athletes, “There is nothing as common as untapped high school talent.”

    Harold, as usual, had the same slightly jaded outlook on the world as Robert Duvall portrayed as Max Mercy, but my old friend knew better.


    As the class of 1990 walked across the floor at the old Wrangler Gym in Shoshoni, Harold leaned over to me and whispered, “We’re going to really miss these guys.”

    He knew what lay ahead after years of being competitive in every sport they played.

    I’m saying goodbye, fair sailing, and good luck to another outstanding group of young people as they leave the protection of home to make their own path in the sun.


    For those who believe the professional complainers that comprise the 24/7 news cycle, you’d think the teenagers of today looked like extras in a Mad Max movie. Not even close.

    As Ecclesiastes Chapter 1, verse 9 so eloquently says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

    An elegant truth, but these kids are just stepping into the sunlight of their lives. They’re about to leave us for a while, some forever, but I for one, thank them for the efforts they made in those all too brief days of their youth.


    The state track meet beginning Thursday marks the end of high school for most of them.

    This group of young men and women is special, all kids are, but many of these youngsters are the children of my friends. That makes it extra special.

    I’ll start with the son of my friends Dave and Adria Trembly. Wyatt is an exceptional young man. If he were simply Clark Kent, he would be extraordinary, bordering on Superman in his athletic talents, his journey has been amazing.

    I remember Wyatt as a kindergartener along the Dubois sidelines long ago. I’ve watched him grow into a talented running back, arguably the best wrestler in his weight class in the state, and a fearless hurdler. That mix of skills is the epitome of talent.

    Those are admirable traits, but Wyatt is a gentleman, a student, and just a great kid. Do great things, young man.

    I met Cooper’s dad Rod a few years ago at a Wind River High School practice, but he knew me when I coached a lifetime ago at Lusk and he was just a kid at Guernsey. His late uncle Rob Frederick was a friend of mine in high school. Those are Wyoming connections, the kind you don’t find in many other places.

    Off the field, Cooper is driven in his quiet way, but once the pads are on he is lightning in a bottle.

    I’ve watched Wyatt and Cooper for many years and think back to my youth and imagine hitting Wyatt head-on. As they say, it might leave a mark. There wouldn’t be a mark with Cooper since I wouldn’t be able to ever get a clean shot on him. His cutback is tremendous to watch.

    Keep that chill at BSU Coop.

    It’s not often that a brother and sister graduate at the same time and both excel athletically. Karina and Cooper are the exception. Watching Karina and the resurgent Lady Cougars this year was fun. She epitomized the “CHAOS” style deployed on Fridays and Saturdays at the Purple Palace. Somewhere along the way, she picked up the name “Peruvian Nightmare” and lived up to it. Good luck next fall.

    Generational comes to mind with Aiden Ruby. His grandparents Mark and Robyn were my friends long before he was born, and I thoroughly enjoyed his mom Jess as a student. Aiden is a classic cowboy. How could he not be growing up in the Ruby clan?

    Slightly sarcastic, quick with a comment, and just a fun kid to be around, he’ll go far in the rodeo world and later in the real world. It’s been a pleasure cowboy.

    Some kids are just fun to be around, Isaac Gardner is one of those. His intensity on the wrestling mat and as an undersized defensive lineman define the essence of sport. Isaac is a self-aware young man, with just a touch of crazy added for good measure. You’ll do well wrestling in Minnesota, and I can’t wait to hear your stories of working high in the air on power lines or even hanging from a helicopter. See where I got that sense of just a bit of craziness?

    I have a photograph I took at a Shoshoni High School basketball game against Riverside 17 years ago. The baby with the big eyes being held by his mom Kara grew up to be the greatest golfer I’ve ever had the privilege to watch in person. Parker Paxton is a competitor. Being the youngest of three talented brothers might have something to do with that. His dad was one of my all-time favorite opponents, and Parker carries on Curt’s desire, drive, and ambition. I’ll be looking for you on the Golf Channel real soon.

    Triple jumping, digging out a spike, or hitting a long-range shot, were all part of Abby Jennings’s repertoire of athletic talents. My favorite was the little excited dance she did after hitting a 3-point shot, it’s why sports can be so much fun. The daughter of my friend Bill, I’ve watched her grow up and now she’s about to set out on her own. She had some setbacks this year but came through with a smile. Keep that positive attitude.

    We admire speed, agility, and strength, those are all qualities to aspire to. The greater attributes are tenacity, perseverance, and a dogged attitude. Kiana Swann has the last two in droves. A gifted distance runner with a bright future as a freshman at Shoshoni, she transferred to Riverton and suffered a setback that would have sidelined a lesser soul. Kiana had surgery, went through a long rehabilitation, and fought back to championship level. It wasn’t easy, and I’m sure there were moments of doubt. But now, she hits the 400-meter oval for one more weekend. You are one tough cookie.

    Who was Steve Prefontaine’s friend at Oregon? It’s a question I started asking Kaden Chatfield in 8th grade. The talented distance runner knew all about the great Oregon distance running track star but had to be reminded about Mac Wilkins, the Olympic discus champion until his junior year. It was our inside joke.

    Nobody worked harder than “Chat.” I’d see him often racing down Gasser Road in front of our house during cross-country and track. He’d always wave and grin, but never break pace. Training is serious to Kaden.

    I’ll watch your races one final time this weekend in Casper, but follow you in your collegiate career. Good luck.

    And in a flash, they’re gone. They graced our lives with their presence for a few years, then moved into adulthood to take their shot at changing the world. Behind them comes another group, and then another, and then…well, you get it.


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