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Winter wonders: Competition, and character building, are worth watching

The high school winter athletics season is upon us, and on one front, the orange and green trumped the blue-gold.

That is, Saturday’s “Civil War game” hosted by the orange-clad Beavers against the green-attired Ducks, caused the postponement of the HRVHS hoops teams’ annual pre-season scrimmage, the blue-gold

It’s been rescheduled to Monday, starting at 5 p.m. on Ed Vannet Court in the HRVHS gymnasium.

Meanwhile, the wrestling squad’s blue-gold event is at 7 p.m. Nov. 23 (see page A7 for Adam Lapierre’s season preview.)

November sporting contests, like those in early September and early March, have a special feeling: at this time, young wrestlers, basketball players, swimmers and snow sports athletes are getting into shape, getting into synch with each other, and relishing the prospect of successful winter endeavors.

Getting back to the wrestling team: “champions on and off the mat” is the team’s theme this year, under coach Trent Kroll. The team faces some interesting dynamics this year, with three returning state placers, a record six girls participating, and a “player coach” who is injured but will work with Kroll to help develop other wrestlers.

It’s the kind of thing that can lead to the building of character, one of the results of participation hoped for by athletes and their parents and coaches.

Another sign of positive development is found in a Nov. 30 athletic event, one that is a first for local schools: the matchup of the varsity boys basketball squads from Hood River Valley High School and Horizon Christian School.

It has been discussed for years, and this year the coaches and athletic directors at the schools put it together. The game will be the marquee contest at Horizon’s always-enjoyable preseason tournament.

It is bound to be an enjoyable game, one whose importance is less the outcome than the fact they are playing at all.

For the first time, the varsity teams of the two high schools in Hood River will meet in an official matchup.

While Horizon draws from throughout the Gorge, many of the Hawks and Eagles have played against each other in youth hoops and, more recently, summer league play.

While a game between the 5A HRVHS and 1A Horizon may seem like mismatch, in this town there is plenty of talent to go around, and it was high time the schools got around to bringing it together.

Youth sports remain one of the best things out there for the community to enjoy, be it high school, middle school, Community Education or other community-based organizations. Skiing and snowboarding aside, sports move inside during the dark and wet months, providing an excellent “entertainment” choice, and one that provides double returns: when athletes see supporters in the stands, or along the sidelines, it gives them a sense of confidence. In turn, they are encouraged as they engage in an activity that is healthful as well as educational. In well-run, positive programs such as the ones found throughout our communities, our young people develop skills as well as character by practicing and working together, and demonstrating those efforts in public competition.

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