When Mike Holmgren landed in Green Bay in 1992 to resurrect the Packers and turn them from doormats into a dynasty, his go-to battle cry was that the “journey is the reward.”
Thousands of football players around the state will begin their journeys tonight as the lights go on for another season of high school football. There are sure to be some sweet rewards awaiting each and every one of them.
For a lucky and fortunate few, the ultimate reward would be playing for a state championship on the Camp Randall Stadium turf in Madison in November. The Fox Valley has been blessed with many state-title caliber teams through the years and this year should be no exception.
For others, the reward could be getting picked as an all-conference or all-state player, a true sign of respect from coaches and an affirming individual honor for all of the hard work, sweat and even tears.
For most, the reward will be the honor of proudly wearing their school colors every Friday night to play a game they love to the cheers of adoring friends and family, making memories that will last a lifetime.
Some players will turn out to be stars. Some will be starters. Some will only dream of seeing the field in a game, spending all week as a human blocking dummy in practice and taking their lumps to make their teammates, and team, better.
Teenagers live in the moment, so unfortunately they don’t take the time to appreciate the journey they are on until it’s too late. For most, it will be 10 or 20 years down the road, when they are at the grocery store or on the golf course or watching their own kids play, that a memory from the journey will enter their mind and make them smile.
If I could give one piece of advice to every player and coach, and even parents and fans, as a new season dawns, it would be to take a few moments this season to enjoy the journey. And, for me, the ultimate reward for every journey is being able to look yourself in the mirror and have no regrets.
For this year’s players, that means having no regrets about the block they didn’t finish, causing their quarterback to get blindsided. No regrets about the tackle they missed because they put their head down. No regrets about the touchdown catch that slipped off their fingertips because they gave up on their route. No regrets about the practice they skipped to hang out with their friends.
Once again, The Post-Crescent will be there to cover every step of the journey this season. Our team of reporters — Ricardo Arguello, Mike Woods, Tim Froberg, Dan Kohn and Jim Oskola, plus freelance reporters Joe Matzek and Dick Knapinski — will chronicle the season on the gridiron and all the excitement that surrounds it. You can follow us in print, online and in social media.
Today’s special section provides rosters and schedules for 24 schools in The Post-Crescent circulation area and previews the conference battles about to be waged. Our Elite 11 package on pages 16-17 highlights a few players who are poised to play big roles this season. You can see an online version of the Elite 11 at postcrescent.com that adds a little video personality.
If you can’t get to a game, tune in Friday nights to a weekly livestream at postcrescent.com. Arguello and Jim Rosandick will be bringing you the action live.
Be sure to check out Varsity Roundtable at 7 p.m. Wednesdays at postcrescent.com. Arguello talks high school sports with some of the top athletes in our area.
And if you have story ideas related to prep football in the Fox Valley or any other sport, contact me at the number or email address listed below.
— Post-Crescent prep sports coordinator Mike Sherry: 920-993-1000, ext. 289, or email@example.com; On Twitter @MikeSherry14