As I walked through the gym doors at Grantsville High School on Tuesday, I saw a group of young men standing around center court with their hands on their hips, still trying to recover from an obviously grueling tryout process.
Head coach Bryan Detweiler was making some speech about what it really means to be a Grantsville basketball player with lots of terms like “gave it your all,” “appreciate the tough effort” and “only so many spots on the team.”
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really listening all that closely.
Then Detweiler paused a bit, looked around the circle at each boy’s face and said, “I respect the hell out of you.”
Never mind the physical demands of a six-hour test designed to make most participants fail and the years spent improving technical skills and athletic ability.
Never mind all that.
Having the willingness to even put yourself on the line like that requires humility, guts, passion and mental fortitude.
“Making cuts at tryouts is the hardest part about coaching,” Detweiler said. “We’re talking about kids who have come up through this program, kids who we’ve set goals with them, kids who played in the program as freshmen, really good kids on and off the court, who were pushing their guts out. We had a kid who played the best basketball I’ve ever seen him play at tryouts this year. It’s tough to look a kid like that in the face after all that and tell him it still wasn’t good enough, that he did his best and it still wasn’t good enough.”
To all the kids who made this year’s team, I offer you congratulations.
To those who didn’t, I don’t really know what to say.
Not making a team is devastating. As least weekly, I still think about the missed shot that cost me a roster spot in high school — the one that meant my best friends were on the team and I wasn’t.
Not making a team can be a blessing in disguise — that’s the lie I choose to believe. Suddenly cutting those two-hour practices out of your life really frees up your day. The kids who weren’t offered a jersey on Tuesday, they’ll be fine, eventually.
But it sucks right now, it absolutely sucks, and I respect the hell out of you, too.
Tavin Stucki has covered prep sports in Utah for about a decade. More than that, if you include the time he spent blogging after getting cut from his high school basketball team.