Coach DeMeyer, Spartans are winnersThe following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by award-winning Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola.
A few weeks ago in River Falls, the Superior High School football team concluded what many may think was an unsuccessful season.
A record of 3-6 was not expected after the Spartans won their first three games in most exciting fashion.
Unfortunately, a lot of fans, and “experts”, feel a 3-6 record indicates failure and a season worth forgetting.
I beg to differ.
The wins over Merrill, Duluth East and Eau Claire North were some of the most exciting games in recent memory. Going 0-6 to finish the season, if the record is all that matters, indicates a cataclysmic end to the 2011 football season at SHS.
But is a winning record all that matters? Agree with me or not, that is your prerogative, but much more was accomplished this season than may be thought.
The desire, work ethic, teamwork, sportsmanship and never-give-up-attitude exhibited by these young men was something to behold.
It’s easy to sit in the stands or with a headset on critiquing every play. Those of us who played football, and are now adults, look at the current athletes and insert our recollection of how we thought we played the game. Our memory becomes clouded with time.
There is an old adage, “The older we get, the better we were.”
Every player who played for SHS coach Bob DeMeyer should be eternally grateful for the experience. Those who chose not to play certainly missed an opportunity to better themselves and grow as a person.
This season was a great success when measured by the intangibles taught by DeMeyer. Are wins important to him? Of course they are, but total victories should not be the only indication of success.
Remember, football is only a game. Life is more than a game, and DeMeyer and his philosophy on life and what he teaches his players is more important than the personal recognition he would receive by piling up victories. He knows what is important, and he guides and advises his students and players to young adulthood. He and those who buy into his philosophy are winners.
Joel Lindberg, current North Dakota State University basketball player, 2011 SHS graduate and one of the greatest cagers in the history of Superior, played football for DeMeyer during his freshman and sophomore years. His memories of those two seasons will be with him forever.
“The thing that stuck out to me being around Coach DeMeyer for four years and playing under him for two was his high character,” Lindberg said. “I believe his main objective as a coach is to make a difference in his player’s lives. Don’t get me wrong, his attitude is to go out, win every football game and get his players to play as hard as they possibly can.
“The thing that makes him so special is how he carries himself. He knows there are bigger things in life than winning games. He makes a difference in his players’ lives and is a role model because of his work ethic and character. Those who play for him are very lucky. I wish I would have played all four years for him.”
I would love to see the Spartan program return to the glory days of coach Larry Hoff. Volumes could be written about Hoff and his influence, on and off the field, on thousands of young people from Superior.
As with Hoff, DeMeyer’s influence is being felt every day by his former students and players. They have learned from the best. The fleeting success of a high school football player meets the brick wall of life soon after graduation. Those who play for DeMeyer are better prepared for the “game” of life.
“This season, regard less of how the scores looked, we were a handful of plays away from winning two or three more games,” DeMeyer said. “Quite honestly, in the last couple of years the difference between winning and losing could have been the absence of two or three special athletes difference makers. For whatever reason, we haven’t gotten those kids to come out. It’s unfortunate for our football program and for those boys. They’re missing some special experiences and memories that come from being multi-sport athletes.”
When asked about this season, senior running back/linebacker, Jack Bergum, smiles and speaks fondly, “We improved upon last year by winning three games. We as individuals gained a lot. We learned how to deal with tough circumstances and difficult situations every week. We learned that hard work really does pay off.
“Coach DeMeyer is one of the best coaches I have ever had. When he talks to a person as an individual, you can tell he really cares. Playing football for the Spartans in an experience I will never forget.”
Don’t you love the “we” not “me” references?
“Spartan football is a program where players should feel a sense of belonging,” DeMeyer said. “Hopefully, we have well-defined principles, expectations, and accountability for a player’s actions on and off the field.
My job is not just to provide them with the best football career possible, but more importantly, it is to provide them with experiences that will help them throughout their lives. That’s my job. I take pride in that and it really is the most gratifying part of it.”
Thank you SHS football players for the thrills, dedication and hard work. Your future awaits, so make the most of your talents. You have received important life lessons from a great teacher, coach, and role model.
Congratulations on a great season.
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