Here’s why this is a wonderful time of the year

 

Orono's (from left) Kam Stockley (11), Anthony Bottie (4), Fred Linden (10), and Nathan Frederick (2) carry the Eastern Maine Class C soccer trophy across the field to their fans after defeating Central 2-0 in the final last November. Postseason play for high school soccer begins this weekend. (Michael C. York/BDN)

Orono’s (from left) Kam Stockley (11), Anthony Bottie (4), Fred Linden (10), and Nathan Frederick (2) carry the Eastern Maine Class C soccer trophy across the field to their fans after defeating Central 2-0 in the final last November. Postseason play for high school soccer begins this weekend. (Michael C. York/BDN)

It’s always tough to get rid of a song that’s swirling around in your head and I’ve been encountering that the past few days with the Christmas classic penned in 1963, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.”

The song still causes me to chuckle because it went beyond its usual seasonal appeal when it was used for a Staples commercial showing a happy dad buying back-to-school supplies while his unhappy children tagged behind. I capitalized on the opportunity to tease my children a bit and would sing, — well, mostly hum — the song to them in the weeks leading up to school.

Several years have passed since those happy days, but the song has stuck again with the beginning of the high school playoff season. It truly is one of my favorite times of the year to follow teams in their championship quests.

Postseason is a special time for high school athletes to relish and remember. Your energy level seems to naturally dial up a notch and a bit of extra nervousness I felt was always channeled into a bit of extra energy during a game.

During this time, well-intentioned coaches will always throw a bunch of cliches at their athletes.

Here are a few of my old favorites:

— “It’s a new season.”

A bit of a stretch, but the meaning can hit home especially for lower seeded teams looking for an upset. It’s hard for players to forget what happened in a regular-season matchup, especially a loss against a team they’re playing in the postseason, but it’s down to one game now and many factors contribute to possible upsets.

Some of those factors include field conditions, a favored team having an off game due to some nagging injuries or looking ahead to the next game, a player on a  hot streak — especially a goalie — and motivated seniors unwilling to play their last game. 

— “Give 110 percent.”

Yes, even a journalism grad knows that’s bad math, but it’s just a motivating message to an athlete to give every ounce of effort during a game or match. That leads to a final old favorite:

— “Leave it all on the field.”

Again, a tired cliche, but understandable for coaches to invoke it. High school sports will be the end of team sports for many athletes. Those games should be remembered as competitive, fun times in which full effort was always given with no regrets.

Good luck to all the teams in their upcoming playoff games and I hope this will become a wonderful time of the year for you, too.

 

Joe McLaughlin

About Joe McLaughlin

McLaughlin (right) is a Stearns High School and University of Maine graduate who worked for three years at the Aroostook Republican and News in Caribou as a reporter and editor. He has worked on the BDN sports desk for 30 years, the last 18 as sports editor. McLaughlin and his wife, Kathy Schwigan, live in Brewer and have three adult children: Ryan, Matthew and Tess.