Saturday at noon, the Nikiski High School football team will tee it up with Barrow to determine the state's small schools champion. At 7:30 p.m., Kenai Central will kickoff with Homer for the crown in the state's new medium schools division.
As our local student-athletes prepare to play in their First National Bowl championship games, hosted by Chugiak High School, we have two things to say: Let's go, Bulldogs! and, Let's go, Kardinals!
We're excited to see our local teams make it this far, and regardless of what happens this weekend, they already are winners in our book. Indeed, any young person willing to put in the hard work and dedication necessary to be part of a high school team -- whether it be football or any other sport, or forensics, drama, music -- deserves a pat on the back. We know that the foundation for success on game day or in a performance, has been laid with countless hours of work in the gym, weight room, at rehearsal -- places far from cheering crowds.
The benefits of participation in cocurricular activities have long been touted. In addition to improved academic performance, students learn important life skills -- the value of hard work, how to set goals, how to work with others, and how to lead. These activities are referred to as cocurricular, rather than extracurricular, because the lessons instilled can be just as valuable as anything taught in a classroom. (That said, we'll drop a quick reminder that keeping up with the academics is really important, too, and we'd bet that more than a few student-athletes will have a text book with them when they depart for this weekend's competition.)
Beyond the benefits to individual students, the success of our local teams also benefits our community. We take great pride in the Bulldogs, Kardinals, Stars and Panthers, and there's many businesses and individuals that do what they can to contribute to that success. It's an investment in our community, rather than a donation, and it's one we're happy to make.
So, to those athletes whose seasons have wrapped up, congratulations, we're proud of your accomplishments. For those whose seasons are under way or not yet started, we wish you well and hope that your hard work pays off, both now and down the road.
And to the Bulldogs and Kardinals, go get 'em this weekend. We're rooting for you.