The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

October 23, 2013

Hope for the future

Student’s commitment to athletic achievement is a good sign

— The news lately hasn’t been good for young people in southern West Virginia.

We have a growing truancy problem, one that officials are now taking a hard line against to get kids to class.

And we reported Tuesday that nationwide, almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, and that the jobless rate for these Americans 16 to 24 years of age stands at 15 percent.

Which is why we want to talk instead about Lyndsey Thompson, the senior at Shady Spring High School, who on Tuesday night set an all-time West Virginia state record with career goal numbers 133, 134 and 135.

It didn’t come easy for her, even she admits. For four straight games, she was blanked, keeping her stuck at 132 goals. But three goals against Oak Hill broke the spell.

“There was a lot of pressure. Everybody was asking me about the record and depending on me to get it,” she told Register-Herald sports writer Dan Stillwell. “I was afraid of disappointing people.”

Well, she didn’t.

Thompson’s achievement on the field of the Tigers’ Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 tournament game with Oak Hill High School will be something she’ll always remember. And we will, too, and her name will come up again when and if some other soccer prodigy in the state challenges her mark for career goals.

Few kids in high school will match her achievement on the soccer field. But all will have different achievements in high school that they will remember just as vividly, maybe in the senior play, or in the marching band, or just making friends with classmates who will be friends forever.

Ms. Thompson wasn’t the only achiever Monday night. Two of her opponents, Oak Hill seniors Erin Heeter and Zoe Gray, are seniors who both played their final match.

All three will take lessons from their high school sports careers that will benefit them in their lives: A commitment to team and school and to fellow players. And gaining the discipline that all athletes learn when they participate in high school sports.

Maybe the most important thing all three will learn is that, despite the individual effort and personal sacrifice they make to compete, they didn’t do it alone, but with their teammates and with the support of their friends, family and fans of their schools.

So all the news about young people isn’t as grim as some might think. These three, like so many others, give us hope for a better future for our community.

And that’s something we all need to be reminded of every now and then, isn’t it?