Extra-curricular activities are supposed to be fun learning experiences.
That has not changed, and hopefully will never change.
At times, we forget that idea.
Sometimes we forget the fun part.
But for the most part, Galion-area athletes and their families and their fans know how to have fun.
I was reminded again of the fun part of high school sports when I saw a bunch of photos of the Galion High School swim team prepping for this weekend’s district swim meet at Bowling Green State University.
This prepping session wasn’t going on in the pool, or in the weight room.
This prepping — or primping — was being done at Rachel’s Hair Design, 248 Harding way East in Historic Uptowne Galion. Rachel West Phillips is the owner. She donated the dye and the labor to help Galion’s swim team get ready for this big meet.
Hours were spent giving haircuts and trims. Highlights and color were being introduced and sparkle was being applied.
But most evident were the smiles.
Smiles of parents taking pictures, smiles from swimmers looking at their teammates as color was applied or as they sat under hair dryers and lots of smiles as the final colored, cut, streaked and highlight products were revealed.
Sports are supposed to be fun and Rachel and her staff and these swimmers and their families and coaches were having fun.
And I loved it.
I’ve been in the newspaper game for about four decades. I’ve attended hundreds of games and dozens of league tournaments as well as zone swim meets and sectional, district, regional and state finals in every high school sport.
But the events I remember most are the fun ones.
The two state tournaments I have enjoyed most over the years are the state swim meet and the state wrestling tournament.
The state swim meet is at C.T. Branin Natatorium at Canton McKinley High School. During this meet, the pool area is as hot and as humid and as crowded and as noisy as any place you will ever experience.
The energy level cannot be matched.
Fans surround the pool. If you can find an empty seat, you better steal it and not move. Empty seats are not empty for long.
There is a hallway above the pool where you can watch the swimmers. It is no less humid, but a bit quieter as swimmers chat with coaches are psyche themselves up for their own races.
Energy equates to fun. And swimmers and their families have learned how to have a good time. The climate in these venues is oppressive. The acoustics … I don’t know if they are good or bad … but the noise produced within that enclosed area is deafening. If you’ve watched a sectional meet at Malabar, magnify that noise and heat and humidity and energy about 100 times.
That’s how it is in Canton during the state swim meet.
I remember the noise and the synchronized cheering. And I remember the intricate, multi-colored haircuts.
If you like energy, and people-watching, you can’t help having a great time
The Mid Ohio Athletic Conference wrestling meet is next Saturday in Galion. The Tigers are celebrating 50 years of high school wrestling so the high school gym is expected to be more crowded than usual.
Still, the ultimate goal for most high school wrestlers is the state tournament. I’ve watched them at St. John Arena in Columbus, at the Nutter Center in Dayton and the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State.
All are great venues.
But the fans make the state wrestling tournament as great as it is. There is always something going on … sometimes up to 10 matches at a time. It also has the most knowledgeable fans. So if you’re not aware when two undefeated champions are against one another, the crowd soon will make you aware with their cheers.
The decibel level at the state swim meet may be a little higher, but the knowledge and focus of fans at the state wrestling meet cannot be matched.
It is an awesome spectacle. There are winners and losers and upsets. All the emotions that make sports great are on display,
Between the two, I don’t think I could pick a favorite.
If you’ve never taken in one of these tournaments, I encourage you to get to one. Even if you don’t know any of the participants, I guarantee you’ll have fun.
And that’s what high school sports should be about.
Russ Kent is editor of the Galion Inquirer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org