Our pride in the words of St. John Neumann basketball coach Jamie Spencer is of course surpassed by our pride in the hard work, humility and composure of the team he coached. But first, these words:
“We won’t regret this game and we are happy to have come as far as we have.” Spencer told the Sun-Gazette on Thursday after St. John Neumann lost the state championship game to Bishop Canevin of Pittsburgh.
As Sun-Gazette reporter Chris Masse wrote in Wednesday’s edition, Spencer cherishes the opportunity to lead and develop young athletes and form friendships that last a lifetime. He loves the daily opportunities to watch his players grow as athletes and as people.
Of course, we are proud of the team and its successes. But we should all be proud of the growth of young men that Spencer talks about. We should be proud of the fans, classmates, family and staff of St. John Neumann Regional Academy, who supported the team while showing faith and character and always emphasizing about the importance of lasting values over immediate victories.
“To see our Neumann fans and other fans come out to support us and watch us in the big arena was amazing. It was a blessing to be here,” a player told the Sun-Gazette on Thursday.
This humility and appreciation for others should be as much a source of pride – if not more – than anything that happened on the basketball court.
Saint John Neumann, although unequaled in this regard, is not alone. We can find examples in all of our schools where the emphasis is on hard work and character rather than fleeting successes. We can see it in sports programs and in Odyssey of the Mind, marching bands, choirs, yearbook staff, and other extracurricular activities. We can see it beyond the walls of our schools serving church youth groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4-H.
And so, while we should all be proud of St. John Neumann, a local school, heading to the state championship today, we can all be proud every day that our youngsters learn lessons in character and exemplify the character for which we all should want to publicize our region.