The Editor: Agents of hope and joy

by Jo Anne Embleton

By this time, the Rusk High School Eagles have returned home, hanging up their gear for the 2021 baseball season and moving into the next phase of life: Reporting to summer jobs and/or attending summer college classes while possibly remaining a little blue over a state championship title slipping through their fingers during a 4A finals match June 10 against Texarkana Pleasant Grove.

Calling back my own high school band memories, I know how heady it was when the Mighty Pirate Band pulled Division I ratings during fall marching contests, because that meant we had a shot at Sweepstakes, should the band pull similar ratings at spring concert contests.

Those titles mean the world to you when you’re a teen, but as you get older, they take on a whole new meaning as you watch those young ones make that journey through play-offs.

Eagles, I hope you know that we’re not just proud of you for going to state, but that we hold you in high esteem for being young men who comported yourselves with increasing dignity as you accomplished something pretty incredible: Yours is the first baseball team in school history to make a run for a state title.

And along the way, you’ve given your supporters something fun, exciting and positive to look forward to as we followed you through what has turned out to be one of the weirdest periods in history that anyone can recall.

COVID-19 brought us disillusionment, uncertainty and fear; it messed up your school careers by forcing you to be educated outside the classroom for long periods of time; it changed the rhythm of our life.

But you, dear Eagles, reminded us that this rhythm always returns. That there is always something the community can rally behind with genuine and generous support.

You reminded us that despite what gets thrown our way, there’s always a bigger picture.

After the send-off pep rally for the local baseball team on June 8, Rusk High Principal Ronny Snow told me that “any time you get on a play-off run, in any sport, at the high school level, it’s one of the most special things you can be a part of – it unifies a community.”

That has been your gift to your community: Without realizing it, you have become the agents of hope and joy.

You’ve let us take part in that magic ride, bringing back a lot of good memories for the grown-ups, who got into the spirit of supporting a championship team, while showing the younger ones what they can aspire to.

You showed us that life goes on in a most spectacular way, and that, even in the midst of our worries and disappointments, we are still unified.

Simply put, you have been a huge blessing with your sportsmanship and dignity at a time when we’ve needed it most, and you’ve reminded us that we can soar beyond what life throws us. And that, my young friends, is no small thing.

From the Cherokeean Herald, and on behalf of the community, thank you for all that you are and all that you do.