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Some victories have qualities all their own

November 15, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

Victories are like people.

They come in all shapes and sizes. They can be public or private. And each is special in its own way.

While people vary, though, there are only two types of victories in sports - quantity and quality.

Quantity victories are the ones that get the most ink.

They are the scores, the records, the points and the yardage. There are rankings, polls and odds. There are the numerical chases for cups, records and history. They are the wins remembered for days, weeks and years around water coolers and at corner bars.

Still, victories of quantity, at times, seem shallow compared to the ones of quality. Wins of quality can be life-changing and enriching beyond words. They are part of the big picture, as opposed to the weekly snapshot.

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They are more than a score. They are for the ages.

On Tuesday, for example, victory was measured in a few shovelfuls of dirt. A small hole becoming the starting point in filling a large void.

North Hagerstown High School's Mike Callas Stadium reached the construction stage with groundbreaking ceremonies. It signified the light at the end of a tunnel. It has been a battle of fundraising and politicking to give North athletes a true field to call home.

In fact, one of the students in Tuesday's program commented, "Homecoming will actually mean coming home next year."

So many people joined forces to initiate the stadium project, it was difficult not to feel the pride one man felt when the structure was nearing reality.

Tuesday's festivities might have been one of the proudest days in Greg Slick's life. While the complex's namesake - the late Mike Callas - gave the project its commitment and foundation, Slick probably provided the cement.

Slick has worn all the hats in North's school community. He was an athlete at the school before becoming a teacher, a coach and a highly trusted advocate of the students who pass through North's doors.

A North stadium has been Slick's holy grail for years. He was a committee member on an attempt that failed before this one succeeded. In fact, groundbreaking emcee John Williamson said this committee "learned their passion for the project from Coach Slick during its weekly meetings."

Slick, decked out in his North High garb and coaching shorts on the frigid day, prowled while greeting people in the minutes before the shovels dug in. He then took the podium to give the historic perspective of how Callas Stadium came about and all the years of effort behind it.

Slick's opening statement was most fitting.

"Can you dig this?" he beamed. "Can't you close your eyes and just envision the stadium right here? I can remember being a young athlete and wondering why we had to go across town to play home games (at School Stadium by South Hagerstown High).

"As North's sports program grew, the need for a stadium grew. This is an example that commitment, vision and teamwork can lead to positive results."

After nearly 25 years of trying, Slick got a private victory - one that will change lives for years to come.

"Henry Ford once said, 'If you think you can or you think you can't, you're right either way,'" Slick said. "I've always thought we could."

Commitment, vision and teamwork were also the driving forces behind the success of the Boonsboro football team.

The Warriors, who were coming off a 4-6 season in 2004 and a 1-2 start this season, won their final seven games. As records go, Boonsboro won the MVAL Antietam championship with an undefeated one and earned a berth in the Maryland Class 1A tournament.

Accolades aside, last Friday's 62-7 victory over rival Smithsburg might have been the crowning, most memorable moment for coach Clayton Anders and the senior class.

The win itself carried sharp contrast. Boonsboro upset playoff-bound Smithsburg last year for the high note of its season, igniting a celebration like there was no tomorrow.

On Friday, it prevented the Leopards from returning the favor and quietly celebrated because there is a tomorrow.

Both times, Anders conducted the players in a chorus of the Boonsboro fight song, their out-of-tune ballad of pride and accomplishment. The party ended right there and the planning began.

"Last year's victory was a great stepping stone," Anders said. "When you aren't having a good year, when you win your last game - and beat your rival doing it - it makes you feel like it was all worth it and makes you want to come back again."

The Warriors came back and improved. Overcoming injuries, Boonsboro hit its stride to reach the majority of 2005's goals, including that victory over Smithsburg.

"We have been rivals forever," senior Adam Rippeon said. "This game goes beyond the playoffs. The seniors have been waiting four years for (winning the Antietam title). I've been waiting for weeks for this one because it was my last game here and it was against Smithsburg."

In years to come, these two instances will be just another event and just another game to casual fans. The new stadium will weather, the victory will be just another one in the list of rivalry results. Quantity has a habit of doing that.

The quality of victory is the thing that will stay with people like Greg Slick, Clayton Anders and Adam Rippeon, though.

It's because their dedication to teamwork, vision and commitment have led to enriching victories in the biggest, most memorable game of all.

The game of life.




Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning-Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at bobp@herald-mail.com

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