There are winners; there are losers.
On March 20, the Minneapolis DeLaSalle Islanders were the winners of the high-school basketball 3A state championship. The Sartell Sabres were the losers, with a score of 70-55.
That’s a fact. But beyond that fact, the words “winners” and “losers” should be re-examined.
Winners are those who, despite losses, take responsibility and move on. They do not whine and pout; they do not blame anyone else; they learn from loss; they demonstrate class and dignity even in a disappointing defeat and through the everyday ongoing thick-and-thin.
In that sense, the Sartell Sabres basketball team players are indeed “winners,” even after their state-tournament loss.
For one thing, the Sabres’ goal all season was to make it to the state championship tourney, and because of their determination and superb teamwork they did just that – the first time in the 43-year history of Sartell High School the boys basketball team went to state competition.
For another thing, the Sabres performed at the peak of their powers against a team that is widely acclaimed as the most accomplished, ferociously talented basketball team in the state. The Sabres knew from the get-go what they were up against, but they didn’t flinch. Even as they saw defeat coming during that terribly intense game, they played as if there was no tomorrow.
And yet another thing: After the game, the Sabres – disappointed, naturally – gave full credit to the tremendous talents of their opponents. There was no bitterness whatsoever. There was a mutual admiration of the kind only the best winners and best losers always demonstrate.
In Sartell Newsleader interviews with coach David Angell and several Sabres players, it was so impressive how these team members stressed the indelibly positive reactions of their experiences leading up to the state tournament, even in the wake of their loss at the state level. They discussed the joys of playing basketball at Sartell High School; they talked about the importance of teamwork and camaraderie; they praised the guidance of coaches; they expressed gratitude for their legions of diehard fans; and they all shared upbeat thoughts about their plans for future goals in life.
True losers don’t learn anything. They turn sour and then give up.
The Sartell Sabres lost the state championship. It was a temporary loss, and because of their true grit, sterling character, discipline and hard work, the Sabres are long-time winners. Those hard-won and important character traits will make them winners throughout their lives.
Congratulations, Sartell Sabres!