Roger Marolt: Roger This | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: Roger This

Roger Marolt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

In case you didn’t know, it is do-or-die time at Aspen High School and the team needs you. It’s all or nothing. Make or break. Put up or shut up. It is the chance to do something that has never been done at AHS before.

Aspen High School is on the verge of adding a girls’ lacrosse team to its list of official team sports. But, it’s not a done deal. The district needs to be convinced that there is popular support for it. They want to see evidence of commitment from the community in the form of a one-time fundraising drive to the tune of $18,000. This must happen now, or the deal is off, kaput, kerploowee, and it will be back to club status for our girls and the $300 annual club fee per player that goes along with that. So, you ask, why is it so much better to have a school sport rather than a club sport?

Well, for starters … Wait a second. What? Oh. So you thought I was talking about the football team hosting the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs at 1 p.m. Saturday on our home turf? OK. I’ll go there. But, only because it is a pertinent and completely verifiable, objective fact.

The truth is that a state high school playoff football game will be played here in Aspen. That has never happened before. The last time the Skiers were even in the playoffs, before the current squad began its three-year run, was 35 years ago when we lost on the road to the Brush Beetdiggers in a torrential freezing rain after the referees lost sight of our last-second, potential game-winning field goal in the thickest fog that anyone had ever seen in those parts. One of the officials claimed to have seen the ball sail wide to the right, but a week later, after the storm had subsided, the game ball was found in a tree outside the fence directly behind the center of the uprights. (And the only people who can dispute me on these facts are the players who were there, who were too young and excited at the time to remember it clearly, and the adults who traveled to the game, who are now too old to have memories that can be trusted. So, basically, whatever I say about that game is the truth.)

If there is anything we learned from that experience, it is that if a fan had been in that tree at the end of that game the referees would have had indisputable evidence that our field goal attempt was good and Aspen would have most likely gone on to win the state championship. (Instead, Brush went on to an easy 45-6 win in the semifinals. I’m sorry that I can’t recall who they played, and thrashed the Rocky Ford Melloneers 63-2 in the championship game.) The point is, of course, that we need fans in every nook, cranny and tree around our field this weekend. You can make a difference!

You don’t believe that, huh? Well, let’s look at a few more facts then. The AHS boys have played their hearts out this year (and for the past several seasons before, too). If you have watched them, you certainly noticed something special about this program. These kids are playing for each other.

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It is rare to see players at any level so unconcerned about personal performance except for how it translates into helping the team win. When I look at these players I see confidence, not arrogance. After successes I see joy, not showmanship. After mistakes I see encouragement, not chastisement. I see kids working together for one common goal, and individual statistics are used only to prove that the team concept works. Best of all, they’ve sucked most of the student body and much of the community into the fold. Even I, the born skeptic, am a believer!

Now here is where it gets interesting. The kids obviously get tons of credit. But, they have a great head coach, too. If Mike Sirko isn’t one of the best game strategists in high school sports, he is certainly one of the greatest motivators and teachers. But, he can’t do what he does without an incredible staff. This program now has the credibility to attract the best and brightest assistant coaches and trainers that our town can produce. But, even the best staff can’t excel without the support of the school behind it. Everyone from the teachers to the administrators to the people who keep the buses roadworthy and safe have to buy into the program to make it work. But, none of this can happen without your support.

So, now do you see the connection between girls lacrosse and boys football? OK, let me lay it out for you as simply as I can: The community (you) is what makes it work. In club sports you have a few interested families supporting their own kids. With school sports you put the entire community behind all the kids. That’s a huge difference. It’s what is needed for continuity, which in turn breeds excellence, not measured solely by wins and losses, but also by a truly positive experience for the kids.

What this community has given to the boys’ football team to enable them to achieve what they have is the same thing you can give to the girls’ lacrosse team – a chance. And, just look at what they can do with that!

So, don’t give up now. Grow roots on the bandwagon. Keep on supporting the kids. This weekend write a check to Aspen School District for the girls’ lacrosse program for whatever you can give. Every dollar will help. After that head out to the faux grass and let our boys know you are still behind them. And, please, please, please make sure somebody is up in the tree behind the goal post. You never know!