I admit I’m not a big sports fan. I was more of a book nerd in high school and, frankly, too awkward to try to throw a ball into a hanging net…or over a net or through a net or whatever one has to do with said ball.
So I was clear from the beginning of my time here that I should not be responsible for writing about any of our seven sports programs. It’s not that I’m unwilling, but I’m simply not capable. Once, early in my reporting career, when I did have to write about sports, I distinctly remember a townsman coming into the newsroom to yell at me about a baseball story I had written and printed in the newspaper. “You don’t score ‘points’ in baseball,” he scolded. Apparently, they’re call “runs.”
And don’t even get me started on big-money college programs and how seriously everyone takes them. I can’t imagine how much pressure there is on college students who play revenue-generating sports.
But I have to admit, I’m really enjoying watching our student athletes (from afar, anyway). Our Sports Information Director, Adam Samson, is doing a great job (if you’re on Twitter, by the way, you can follow the action by following @Stephens_Sports).
And the Columbia Missourian has been doing a great job covering our sports programs. The stories are well written and interesting and readable even to people who, ahem, don’t know the difference between points and runs.
The first Missourian headline that grabbed my attention was this: “A Columbia win, but a Stephens victory in volleyball match-up” by Rebecca Dell and Shannon Greenwood. I saw it on Twitter and followed the link, wondering how the heck it was our victory if Columbia won. But after reading the story, it was pretty clear. No one expected Stephens to win. No one expected Stephens to even come close to winning. But apparently we won the first set, which I assume must be a good thing because it was the first time that’s happened in a match-up against Columbia College in five years.
What I especially appreciated about our Stars after reading Rebecca and Shannon’s story was the attitude. Coach Rose Obunaga told the ladies to play, have a good time and not worry about winning or losing.
The second story in this sports trilogy was about a Stephens first: The Stephens soccer team scored its first goal. Ever.
OK, to be clear, soccer only returned to Stephens last fall, so when I say “ever,” I mean a little more than a year, but still. According to the Missourian story by Cody Williams and Megan Schuster, Rose Baka scored the goal against MacMurray College, which ended up beating the Stars 8-1. But that didn’t stop our students from celebrating the break-through. Coach Xander Kennedy called it the “most ridiculous 8-1 goal celebration you’ll ever see.”
The take-away? Our students didn’t expect to win. Heck, they didn’t even expect to score. They expected to have fun, and they succeeded.
The final sports story I read this week was again by Megan Schuster, this time about Stephens College soccer goalie Briannica Ponder. Ponder, Schuster tells us, ranks fifth in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in saves and seventh in the NAIA in total shots saved. I’m not sure what all of that means, but it sounds impressive.
That’s more impressive considering Ponder is playing soccer and challenging herself physically in spite of the fact she also suffers from symptoms of Lyme disease, for which she’s been receiving treatment for the past six years. You can read her amazing story here.
So, while I’m still not a sports fan, per se, I am officially a fan of the Stars. I’m a fan of our coaches. I’m a fan of sports programs that encourage women to challenge themselves, yes, but to also have fun and to enjoy the game, win or lose. And I’m a fan of the Missourian reporters who focus on successes that might not show up on the scoreboard.