Ten years ago, Eau Claire North’s Larissa Parr stopped by the WQOW News 18 Studios for an interview, after she’d been named as one of five players on the Associated Press All-State first team. Parr had a stellar senior season, but she and the Huskies wound up losing in a regional final, on their home court, to cross-town rival Memorial.
As we were chatting about that game, I was going down my laundry list of items that I thought contributed to its outcome. Parr just looked at me and said, “If losing that game is the worst thing that’s going to happen in my life, then I’m going to have a very happy life.” I was struck at that moment by the fact that a high school senior, no less, could have such perspective–then again, Parr was one of the top students in her class, so her astute comment should not have been that much of a surprise.
Wednesday, I found myself once again in the North H.S. gym, this time talking to Huskies head coach Michelle Peplinski, about how her team was dealing with a weather-related postponement of its game with Appleton East. Just one day before, at UWEC’s Zorn Arena, we’d had practically the same conversation. Some may have been mad at the world, Mother Nature, the WIAA, and everything in between, but Peplinski had a Parr-like perspective on the whole situation, saying, “It’s not like we’re dealing with a hurricane or a tsunami here.”
You’d figure Peplinski would have a positive perspective on some constantly changing travel plans. After all, it was her father who donated a kidney when Peplinski’s husband, Mike, a former U.S. Olympic curler, needed a transplant. Situations like that one certainly reinforce the notion of not sweating the small stuff.
Both Michelle and Mike Peplinski are also teachers in the Eau Claire district, which means they deal with fluid situations in the classroom on a daily basis. Over in Altoona, Ryan Wundrow faces similar challenges in his kindergarten class.
Wundrow is also the head girls basketball coach at Altoona, and for a second straight season, has guided a team on a surprising playoff run to the state tournament. The Railroaders mirror their coach: not big, but with relentless energy, and an ability to stay positive and keep battling when it would be really easy to throw in the towel.
The week prior to state should be a time for teams and coaches to bask in the glow, but Wundrow ‘s had a few extra things on his plate: on Monday, reserve guard suffered a knee injury Lisa Peck that will keep her out of the state tournament. Wednesday, on the way to Madison, the Railroaders’ bus broke down just east of Mauston on I-94. It would be easy for Wundrow to moan and groan about his bad luck, but his goal was to use the bus breakdown as a learning experience: yet another example of how it’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you react to it.
Regis is the third team from the EC metro to make it to Madison, and as far as I’m aware, head coach Brady Hoolihan hasn’t been dealing with weather-related postponements, season-ending injuries, or bus breakdowns–but knowing Brady, he’s probably using the North & Altoona experiences in a message for his team to appreciate what they have going.
Yes, it’s unfortunate that the weather has impacted the North Huskies’ postseason journey, much like it’s unfortunate that Altoona’s bus broke down. Still, the Railroaders got to Madison, thanks to a replacement bus. North’s road to Madison, still goes through Stevens Point, and still requires a win over Appleton East–granted, a few days after originally scheduled.
Should the WIAA review the Super Tuesday format in light of this week’s weather-related issues? Yes, but then again, that review process would have happened anyway, even if the weather had been 50 & sunny all this week. Besides, it’s not like the new format for postseason high school basketball has been drafted on stone tablets. Still, whatever tweaks may be made (or not made), there are sure to be plenty of critics–it’s just how it goes in sports.
Plenty of life challenges await the players on the North, Altoona, and Regis teams. For the remainder of this week, they can focus on one thing: playing basketball. The rest of us can sit back and enjoy the show…wherever and whenever it happens.
Posted under Hometown Sports
This post was written by bbradovich on March 24, 2011