Archive for Wednesday, May 17, 2000

Tonganoxie crowds know how to support athletes

May 17, 2000

Like the playoffs in professional sports or tournament time and bowl week in college athletics, post-season high school championships kick off a flurry of activity for athletes and their fans.

In the case of high school athletes, the stress of league, state or regional championships is compounded by finals, prom, graduation, college plans and a million and one other things that mark the transition from childhood to adult life.

In the case of high school athletics fans, many of whom are parents or close relatives of the athletes, the stress of taking time off to watch these events is piled on to the ever-present stress of real life.

Helping kids study for finals, paying for prom, paying for a class ring, paying for a letter jacket, paying for a cap and gown and buying a graduation present, among other things, make it stressful for parents when they have to take time off from the jobs that pay these bills to watch their kids play ball.

Some families simply cannot afford to do this. Fortunately, in Tonganoxie there's plenty of support to go around.

At the Tonganoxie sporting events I've been to, the fans cheer just as hard for the other parents' kid as they do for their own.

They cheer for the team. They cheer for school spirit. They cheer because it's all they can do to support the kids who represent their town, which is part of who they are.

And those fans who have to work during games and meets cheer from under the hood of a broken down Ford or from atop a John Deere. They cheer from behind a desk or a cash register. In short, people in Tonganoxie stick by their community.

Because Tonganoxie athletes and fans all spring from the same roots, there is shared joy in every homer and shared pain in every strike-out.

When a Chieftain runner flies by a competitor on the home stretch, fans in the grand stand scream at the top of their lungs.

When a Tonganoxie sprinter leans at the finish line, the crowd sways, every fan stretching forward to take the victory with her.

The beauty of high school sports is that fans don't watch the games, they play their parts in them.

They stick by their teams through both gut-wrenching defeats and glorious victories.

Tonganoxie man tells his bear of a story
Robert Zink, Tonganoxie, cut down a tree in Idaho May 3.

That doesn't sound very interesting until you find out that he cut it down to get a 400 pound black bear he'd tracked for a quarter-mile out of the top of it.

"When a black bear is injured it climbs up a tree, Zink said. "When he's going to die, he climbs to the top."

Zink shot the bear in Hell's Canyon near the central Idaho town of Riggins, he said. Hell's canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon, but not as wide.

Zink said the bear, which stood 7-foot, could weigh enough to be an Idaho record.

This is unusual because bears are at their smallest this time of year, having just awakened form hibernation.

He missed the bear and stuck the arrow in a tree with the first shot of his 68-pound compound bow.

"He turned and looked at me, and I shot him," he said.

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