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Winners and losers

Sonja Karp, NLJ Sports Editor

In life, there are winners and losers, and everyone has to know how to do both.

One especially needs to know how to lose. As Ricky Bobby famously said, “if you ain’t first, you’re last,” and there can only be one person who finishes first in whatever arena of life in which you are competing.

With the odds being against you, you need to take the losses, learn from them, and get better.

As a small fish in a big 3A pond, Newcastle High School knows what it feels like to be on the losing end of the battle.

We are not alone in that. Glenrock, Moorcroft, Burns, Thermopolis and even Wheatland and Torrington all know the struggle that our teams face going up against the beasts that are Douglas and Buffalo.

When the 3A class includes schools with populations ranging from 210-700, there is a great divide between the pool of athletes that schools have to choose from, and smaller schools are at a great disadvantage.

Don’t get me wrong, Newcastle has put together several successful teams throughout the years, and have had several athletes achieve great accolades in individual sports as well.

And we have all reveled in their successes and lived vicariously through them.

But, we also need to understand that those groups of talented athletes needed to make up a team, and those individual standouts don’t come along every day, especially when we only have around 234 students in the high school.

As such, we need to accept the fact that state titles are also going to be few and far between.

Because we are faced with this winner-loser dichotomy throughout our lives, it is imperative that we learn to lose with grace, and also win with grace.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: We learn more from our losses than we do our victories. In every loss, there are lessons for us to take away. Maybe I could have put in a little more effort? Maybe we could have communicated more? Maybe I need to work on my ball handling and my hanging left-handed hook shot? Maybe I need to be more aggressive on defense and box out my opponent a little better?

Whatever the lesson, it is also important to be able to accept loss gracefully. No one likes a sore loser, and no one wants to see tantrums thrown or excuses made. It’s a time to reflect, learn and grow.

For that matter, when we win, we also need to do so with grace. No one wants to see a winner gloat. No one likes to see a winner boast of their achievements. Heck, Angel Reece became one of the most despised basketball players in the country last year as she was filmed taunting Caitlyn Clarke after Louisiana State University defeated Iowa in the college national championships.

We want winners to be humble and grateful for their success. And, when we win, we need to try to glean tidbits from our victory that helped us achieve it.

I don’t know if Ricky Bobby was right, but I do know that knowing how to win and how to lose is a vital skill for life.

As an endnote, Cody, with its 630 students, is dropping down to 3A next year after the Wyoming High School Athletics Association redid its classification guidelines. For those who don’t know, Cody is a force in the 4A ranks, so that’ll be great fun for 3A!

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