Last Friday night, I got to see something I have not seen in years. I watched a western KY high school basketball game.
Maple Trail led a conference in Carlisle County, KY, at Bethlehem Baptist Church. We were 25 miles SW of Paducah. Deep west KY, 15 minutes from Missouri. We drove down Friday to get setup and prepared.
Since we had some free time, we decided to go see the Carlisle County Comets take on the Mayfield High School Cardinals in the semi-finals of the All Class A Regionals. It was like stepping back into my past.
My high school, Hancock Co., was a Class A school. Every year, we would watch and cheer as our beloved Hornets would compete for a trip to Eastern KY University’s McBrayer Area for the All Class A Finals. One year, I remember going and playing in the Pep band. I think we finished second that year.
But now as an adult, seeing these young men, mostly 16 & 17 year olds, play their hearts out was inspiring. In Carlisle County, there is no football team. The school is too small. Basketball is all they got. You see ball hoops in nearly every driveway. Much like football in other parts of the country (namely Texas), basketball is like a religion in west KY.
These young men dove on the hard court, banged around inside, and sprinted as hard as they could back and forth. The rosters on these teams are not huge, so getting a breather is a luxury. But you could see in their eyes, they loved every minute.
As I watched, I thought a lot about life, ministry, and teaching. These young men will be college students in a couple years. Some could even be in my classes at CU. I thought about my boys and wondered what role sports will play in their lives, if any. I watched the parents who dressed up, cheered, screamed, and had sacrificed thousands of dollars so their sons could play basketball. Will we sacrifice that much? Ten years from now, we shall see.
Basketball is a way of life in west KY. It was great getting to remember what that felt like.