Darren Doyle, story and photos
The 2015-16 Wildcat Boys Basketball season is over, and it ended way too soon. Over the course of the past four months, we've had the privilege of covering Wildcats sports (Lady Cats, too). The launch of our own broadcast network, WildcatsLive, has been an overwhelming success and we've enjoyed every broadcast, every interview, photo, and article that we've been a part of.
We've come to know and love these players as our own family. They've taken the time to answer our questions in good times and the bad, and were always ready to give one of our staff members a hand shake, fist bump, high five, or all three.
The coaches allowed us on the floor, in the locker room, and gave us their time and respect, while they were also willing to help us in so many ways in order for us to better do our jobs, and we are grateful.
The season ended with a winning record of 17-10 on an unexpected loss, and those are the worst kind. But for us, we'll remember this season as something far more than wins and losses, and we want our readers to know why.
First of all, parents, fans, and readers need to know what kind of coaches by which these Wildcats were led. Coach Mike McClintic and Assistant Coach Bart Weaver returned every call we made, every text, and email, sometimes at midnight. That's enough to earn our respect, but there's way more to it than that.
Time and time again, they would talk to us about their kids. The Wildcats. Not about X's and O's, but the players. They took the blame for the losses, they gave all credit to the players. They talked about starters, they talked about bench players. They would occasionally get teary-eyed when talking about them. They would get choked up from time to time. Folks, this is something that is often missing from youth sports. In a world where wins and losses are the only things that matter to some, Edmonson County is an exception.
Secondly, every interview we had with an individual player resulted in that player either giving credit to his teammates, coaches, or both, rather than themselves. Every single time. This year's team consistently had five guys that could score double figures in every game, yet none of them ever "show-boated," bragged, or took any credit for themselves around us.
They continually talked about their love for one another and how proud they were to be Wildcats. With as much media coverage as these players have gotten over this season, none of them ever tried to make the news, they never tried to get interviews, and in today's times, that is amazing.
Some will read this article and accuse me of being a suck-up. Call it whatever you want. I've been around enough bad coaches to truly appreciate the good ones, and Coach Mac and Coach Weaver and their staff deserve to be recognized.
They don't get paid very much to be coaches, yet they're the first ones to the gym and the last ones to leave. They wash uniforms, watch film, study the stats, work all hours of the day and night, and that's in addition to their regular teaching jobs and their own families. They're often criticized by the "bleacher coaches" and folks at home listening in, yet they come back the next day, trying to figure out the best way to help their kids.
However, the true test of a what a coach really is, can be tried by asking the kids themselves what they think.
"I love this team so much," said Senior Hunter Buttram after the season-ending game. "The players and coaches have taught me so much about basketball and life. They've made me a better person overall."
Cuban Sowders said much of the same. "The whole experience of playing basketball here has taught me not only basketball skills, but also life skills," he said. "I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to play for this community and for all the support we've received."
Senior Jackson Sasse said he felt like he was speaking for all of the locker room when he said he couldn't have asked for better coaches. "We wanted to win for each other and for them," he said. "I hope I become half the role model that they've been to me."
Junior Bailey Board said that the coaches have helped him a great deal. "Both of them have taught me so much and improved my game on both sides of the court. They mean so much to me and they're like family."
Junior Caleb Skaggs told us that there wasn't enough good things he could say about them. "They really care about our team. They love us like sons and we love them like dads," he said.
You won't hear those comments unless your coaches have led you by example. These coaches have led these players to be good leaders themselves, as well as good followers.
The world needs more coaches that get choked up about their kids and less of the ones that don't.
Hunter Buttram summed up what we've seen from these kids and coaches all season long when he said. "I'm so thankful to be a part of this community. I'm so proud to be a Wildcat and always will be."
We hear you, Hunter. All of us at the EdmonsonVoice feel the same. We thank all of you guys for a great season and we wish you nothing but the best in the years to come. WildcatsLive has been honored to be part of this year. We. Are. EC.