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Parasiliti: Wildcats' journey far from ordinary

May 20, 2012
  • Bob Parasiliti
Bob Parasiliti

Sometimes, seasons are like book reports.

You remember those. You get a book and read it before trying to summarize what’s been written and what it meant to you.

And like anything else, some of us jump off the cliff and get involved, while others just take shortcuts by leaping into CliffsNotes.

The fact is, no matter if it’s an everyday assignment or a sporting event, what we the players get out of any situation really depends on what we put into it.

Maybe that’s why the idea of “it’s the journey, not the destination” is always standing in the background in many long-term events — like political campaigns, athletic seasons or anything else that becomes a slice of life.

Some brainy guy like Ralph Waldo Emerson is credited with creating the notion, but coaches and athletes have repurposed the thought and embraced the idea.

Late, great tennis champion Arthur Ashe explained it as: “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”

It’s not unusual nowadays to hear a coach or an athlete utter a variation of the journey-destination quote when being interviewed. In a way, it’s a motivational cliché, but it proves they understand that living for the moment ends in 60 seconds.

That brings us to spring 2012, where the journey of another school year is about to reach its final destination.

There is still work to be done. Local track teams and a couple tennis players have state final dates this weekend. There also are two baseball teams still in action, starting with North Hagerstown, which seems to be on course to meet a championship destiny.

Then there is the improbable trek of Williamsport’s baseball team, which has every reason to be heading into Tuesday’s Class 2A state semifinals but would have been excused if it didn’t make it.

“A lot of things have been put into perspective for us this year,” said Wildcats coach David Warrenfeltz recently.

Perspective is a lesson in objectivity that is learned along the way.

Unfortunately, Williamsport got its clarity with the death of teammate Brendon Colliflower. Their star pitcher — along with Samantha Kelly, another of the school’s top athletes — was lost in an auto accident on May 5.

The incident has shaken and continues to affect the team, the school and the community.

At the same time, it has sharpened the team’s collective focus.

The Williamsport pair were the third and fourth athletes lost over the last two months. The communities of Clear Spring and Smithsburg are still dealing with the pain because of the losses of Quinn Hoover and Mitchell Akers.

So before we know where we are going, maybe we should figure out where we have been.

It has been a long and twisting road for this area for the last two months.

We’ve experienced so much. And maybe — just maybe — we have learned something along the way.

We now know that no matter how invincible and independent our children think they are, they’re not.

We know we need to take advantage of the moments we have because they could quickly become our last.

We learned that good coaches are an endangered species and that, depending on their use, terms like “vote,” “fire” and “beef” also are nasty four-letter words, just more readily accepted.

We’ve seen adulthood doesn’t always bring wisdom. Some still teach their kids that if you don’t get your way, throw a tantrum or threaten a lawsuit instead of coping with disappointment and rejection.

We can see that good coaches are caretakers in the development of our children. They are an extension of parents, who teach discipline while providing added support and guidance in tough situations.

We learned athletes are more universal than ever. They are competitors on the field and friends off of it. When there is a tragedy, they all hurt — no matter what color they wear.

And because of that, we realize there is a brotherhood (and sisterhood) among the members of teams.

Young athletes are calling their teammates “family.” For some, it’s that bond of brotherhood that comes from sacrifice.

For others, it’s the only family they have.

That bond is the driving force behind Williamsport’s baseball team.

Colliflower’s initials and No. 6 are constant reminders to the Wildcats to put aside individual agendas to complete a journey of purpose.

“In the last two weeks, we have been through a lot, but we are laying it all on the line for Brendon and his family,” Williamsport’s Zach Lucas said.

On Friday, Williamsport won its second straight region championship. They celebrated the moment — those 60 seconds — but they remembered why it was important.

They asked Colliflower’s parents to come out and join the celebration. Amid the joy and tears, Williamsport’s seniors took turns hugging the Colliflowers, reaffirming their convictions.

“It’s been a fairy-tale story,” Warrenfeltz said. “We are just enjoying our time together every day and doing everything we can to keep the season alive.”

No matter what happens, the Wildcats have, at most, two games left this season.

Williamsport will have reached a final destination, but the journey it traveled and the lessons it learned might be remembered longer than the outcome.

That’s because the journey is the steps you take to reach a destination.

The report on this book will always be tough to summarize.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at bobp@herald-mail.com.

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