No the title is not a reference to the sixties rock band and their dancing bears but it could be appropriate given dancing which our bears have been doing lately as they continue to raise the bar of success in Section X!

I could not help myself when I started writing this message to our community this morning. The overwhelming feeling of positivity which I currently possess needs to be shared! So many lives have been turned upside down by this pandemic recently. We are constantly and relentlessly inundated with negativity such as at the daily updates regarding infection rates, hospitalizations, death rates, schools moving towards virtual instruction, the ongoing tug of war to keep businesses and organizations open or to close them, unprecedented negative political rhetoric and discontent, societal struggles with racism and other forms of inequality and injustice, etc. and so on and so forth………….so much negative. Who couldn’t use some positivity right now!!

I felt today was as good as any to attempt to communicate how grateful I am to our school board of education, administrators, coaches, families and athletes for providing some semblance of positive and productive “normalcy” in our lives. Seeing the “smeyes” from our student-athletes each day as they laugh their way to their respective fields is truly a blessing. For those who may not have heard the term “smeyes” before, it is when a person is clearly smiling under his/her mask and you can see it in their “smiling eyes”!! This is a term I heard remarked recently by Williams College Athletic Director Lisa Melendy and I thought it was a perfect word to describe our athletes and the noticeable enjoyment and appreciation which they exhibit because they are able to play or race!

I could go on and on boasting about our cross country runners as they dominate the leaderboard in Section X once again. They continue to race to outstanding and ever-improving times over the river and through the woods! They certainly aren’t going to grandma’s house however as the song might suggest. Instead they run repeat after repeat on the track, perform tempo training sessions, Fartlek runs and long slow distance days. Each Saturday they enjoy the fruits of their weekly labor as they have an opportunity to better their times and frankly, discover something different about themselves through competition. They do this with an abundance of gratitude, all the while wearing a face mask and limiting their breathing…. but certainly not limiting their performance. We are so proud of them!

I could also boast about the fantastic start of our soccer season. The Golden Bears are currently undefeated over the first two weeks of the schedule. EVERY SINGLE TEAM! They too have been extremely supportive of the rules which have totally disrupted their routine from past seasons. On a typical fall day our locker rooms would be buzzing with activity similar to a bee hive when poked with a stick. Kids would be coming and going, sharing stories, venting about the frustrations of their day, talking about their upcoming opponent, bragging about their last game, showing each other their favorite TikTok videos and in general, decompressing from the rigors of their personal or academic lives. The simple fact is….after nearly 7 months off, this is happening once again!! The difference is, they are now doing it with six feet of separation and wearing a mask. It makes me unbelievably happy to see this normal, well-needed behavior from them. It somehow makes a global pandemic seem a little father away.

Our parents and fans have been great as well. We have a gate list which we continually revise for contact tracing purposes and so that those immediate family members or guests can attend. We have many other spectators watch our games by sitting in their vehicles. I never dreamed that the Coach Roger Dusharm Soccer Field would become the section’s largest “Drive-In” soccer field! But it sure has and it has been fantastic! I am grateful!

Since I am on the topic I would like to ask that those spectators who are on the gate list to please park a little further from the field. The worst thing is to see is an empty vehicle in a prime-time location when it could be used by someone who is not on the gate list. Basically, as long as a person remains in their vehicle, they can stay and watch the games…..oh and be sure to give a quick honk when the Bears score a goal!

The last item which I am grateful about is the icing on the cake for the total feeling of positivity which I have regarding our season thus far. I was attending Coach Mike Wentworth’s JV soccer game last evening as they impressively defeated Massena. It is notable that the Massena boys were probably six inches taller than our guys across the board. It is also notable that they outweighed us each by probably twenty pounds. What they didn’t have was our heart or ability to be in the right place at the right time. The sense of teamwork I felt watching them was awesome to witness. That alone could be the “icing” which I mentioned earlier, although it is not.

The icing could also be the fact that spectators in attendance were witness to the oldest ball boy in the history of Section X as Art Quackenbush, former McKenney Middle School Principal, as he carefully sanitized each and every ball as they exited the side of the field opposite the scoreboard. Although we are exceptionally grateful it is still not the icing on the cake.

The true icing was the moment when one of the Massena boys went down with an injury and everyone kneeled on the ground for him. When it was realized that he needed assistance off of the field, I scanned the field wondering which of his teammates would lend him a hand or show him some concern. When this did not occur one of our players, Bradley Frank offered him a shoulder to lean against and proceeded to help him to the sideline. Although not totally surprising knowing the character of our kids, this act is certainly something impressive and makes us coaches and I’m sure all of our parents very proud. Quite honestly, these types of acts are frankly needed more in our country right now. Nice going Bradley! (Frankley needed?….I think that’s a pun, ha ha)

I AM so very grateful to be associated with this generation of student-athletes and look forward to watching them develop and enjoy the remainder of the fall season!

Go Bears!

William Porter

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