Estherville Lincoln Central athletic director Brad Leonard and head girls basketball coach Tony Klein had a lot of kind and soothing words for the Estherville Lincoln Central girls basketball team when they came home with the 3A runnerup trophy Saturday.
After scrapping their way to the championship game, the Midgets were handed a loss from Davenport Assumption. But there was no sign of defeat in their eyes when they entered the gym to see a large crowd gathered to wish them well.
Wisely, Leonard told the girls that in years to come, when trophies were gathering dust, they would mainly remember their times playing together. And for the seniors this year, that was so true. For years, they went above and beyond, playing basketball on a traveling team when other girls their age were playing house or watching television. As Leonard said, they made sacrifices, lots of them, and it was all worth it.
Klein noted the exemplary behavior of the girls, so exemplary, in fact, that he was able to concentrate on the game.
Let's face it. Last Friday night's game was a David-and-Goliath matchup. This time, Goliath won. But the spirit and intensity with which the ELC girls played was very obvious. They played to win and that's all that matters. And as Casey Sievert told those gathered in the ELC gym Saturday to see the girls together as a team one last time, the fans helped tremendously in getting them as far as they did.
One thing that's not known at this point, though, is what seeds the girls may have sown among younger girls - some even in grade school. They have someone to look up to, someone to emulate.
Soon, probably sometime this summer, some little girls will put away their Barbies and grab a basketball.
And who knows how many lives will be changed.