Archive for Thursday, July 24, 2008

Senior class left lasting memories

Off the Rim column

July 24, 2008

As the 2008 fall sports' season approaches - too fast for my liking - dozens of Baldwin High School graduates are preparing for college athletics.

Some of them will be enjoying their collegiate finale or trying to improve on the previous year's performance. However, for a handful of former Bulldogs, it will be their first experience in the world of college athletics.

While the simple thought of it all can be daunting and frightening at first, the experience will soon be one they won't forget. Once they get into the groove of college and what's expected academically and athletically, I'm sure they will do just fine.

BHS lost one of its most talented classes in May. It was one filled with arguably some of the greatest athletes in their particular sports. It was also filled with good all-around athletes who never became great in a single sport, but helped several teams achieve success.

It was one that I had the pleasure of watching and covering for three-and-a-half of their four years at BHS. There were plenty of highs and lows, but it was those remarkable moments that captured our imagination and left an imprint in our brains.

One picture that remains in my head is Heather Garcia crossing the finish line as the clock reads 4:58.9. She broke the 5-minute barrier in the 1,600-meter run.

It marked the first time I'd ever seen a high school girl accomplish the feat. I stood stunned for several minutes. I was proud as a BHS grad, a former runner and a journalist.

Of course, she also won several gold medals and state titles. But there was only one state title that really was incredibly special to witness this year.

After years of finishing fourth and then runner-up twice, he finally reached his four-year goal. He won his first-ever Class 4A state championship at his last high school meet : ever.

Kevin Callahan's smile said it all. Kit Harris' hoisting Callahan into the air captured the moment. It's true that pictures are worth 1,000 words.

Although there were many other highlights, including the football team's march to success last fall, only one other memory is too unforgettable to mention. In her second-to-last game, Callie Craig threw a perfect game in the first round of the regional tournament. She struck out 10 of the 15 batters she faced that evening.

Oddly enough, the last out should have been a hit. The ball was sharply hit between first and second base. Then MacKenzie Flory saved the day for the senior pitcher. She scooped the ball up in shallow right field and fired a rocket to first base. Out! Craig's mother, Julie, let out a sigh of relief and her face showed how proud she was of her daughter.

Now those pictures and memories will remain memories. We won't see them take the field, court, mat or course again as BHS Bulldogs. However, we will get the privilege of watching a handful of them continue their careers at colleges nearby.

BHS will be represented in the sports of cross country, football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, track and field and soccer. I know of at least 11 graduates from the class of 2008 that will be competing for colleges this year.

Of course, there are some that won't continue playing. They will move on with their lives, whether it be college or work or whatever life brings them. I wish them the best of luck.

Now we look to the class of 2009 to provide us with memories and moments that will last forever. It might not quite be as memorable as the 2008, but I have no doubt they will make us proud to be a part of BHS athletics.

Go Bulldogs!

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