On the Ball-Paying it Forward
An accomplished cross-country team that has yielded handfuls of athletes to conference-level competition. A swimming program that has seen numerous participants do the same and earn state-cut times. A track-and-field team that has flourished in its first three seasons, with numerous students qualifying for the Henlopen Conference championship and the state tournament.
When you look at what Indian River High School has accomplished in a few short years, it’s definitely quite a feat. Add a brand new 6-1, junior-varsity lacrosse program into the mix, and you’ve got an impressive four-year repertoire for the school’s athletic department.
Since I started covering sports for the Coastal Point, Indian River High School has gone from 11 sports to 15 – a testament to the hard work and dedication put in by the school’s athletic director, Todd Fuhrmann. He has slaved, tirelessly, preparing proposals to the Indian River school board, soliciting involvement from the students, organizing practice and competitive fields and trails, and found committed leaders to help take on coaching roles.
In the brief tenures of these sports at IR, the new athletic programs have not only helped Indian River catch up with other schools, offering a competitive opponent, but they have given student-athletes – and some students who might not have tried being athletes – a new outlet, something more to look forward to each day.
Wrestlers and soccer, football and basketball players turn to track and lacrosse to keep their bodies and minds sharp. Softball and baseball stars join swimming and cross-country teams to stay active throughout the year. Other students, who may have felt some intimidation about joining a grounded, successful program, have segued onto a new team during its infancy and in some cases have found success outside the classroom, too.
Growing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a student at Rising Sun High School in Cecil County, Md., I, too, was a letterer with multiple varsity teams. But our athletic program was somewhat behind the times, as well. To this day, the school is still without a swimming team, and lacrosse and golf teams weren’t set into motion until after my graduation.
I wished I had the opportunity to hit the links while representing my high school, and I now sometimes find myself living vicariously through the teams at Indian River. Their success and triumph through established programs and new ones has been nothing short of a joy to watch.
This past fall, I was able to witness the Indians rewrite high school history as the varsity football team took home the Division II State Championship. With those athletes on other teams this spring, including baseball, tennis, track and lacrosse, it makes going out to those games that much more enjoyable. And that stretches beyond football, as another successful basketball season drew to a close for the Lady Indians this year, but several girls from the team are now continuing their triumph on the track team.
These well-rounded student-athletes are displaying a valuable work ethic, studious time management and quality leadership – traits that resonate from their coaches and assistant coaches.
These individuals were once athletes in high schools themselves, some on championship teams. They understand the perseverance and sacrifice that goes into making sure students excel, whether inside the confines of the school or outside, on the courts, fields and track. Their diligence leading a classroom or leading a team should not be overlooked.
As new sport seasons emerge and past ones draw to a close, as graduation takes away tomorrow’s hall-of-famers and new school years welcome the next generation of upcoming stars, take a second to reflect on what you’ve achieved and where you’ve come from.
If you think about where you are and how you got there, I bet, nine times out of 10, there will be a coach or a teacher who, somehow, some way, had an influence on your life – someone who saw in you what you doubted anyone could see, someone who believed in you when you thought all hope was lost, someone who found the best in you when you were ready to give up.
As you take that moment to reflect on your childhood and early adult life, appreciate your success, but never forget who helped you get there, and perhaps, in turn, you will be that influence on tomorrow’s all-star.