Monday, February 28, 2011

State Basketball in Iowa

Courtesy Des Moines Register
Making Iowa's State Basketball tournament means something to the boy or girl that achieves the goal of playing in Des Moines. But to the team's fan base, the thrill of playing on the state's grand stage has a different meaning. All school's representation want their team to bring the hardware back to their school's trophy case, but the thrill of playing in the state tournament means more to the fans of the smaller schools in the state.

I grew up in a town, population 1,000 with a graduating class of 32. I live in a town where nearly 1000 attend one of the two city schools.Thirty-two may take up one Algebra class. But today the town I grew up in and the school I graduated from finally made the Girls State Basketball Tournament, the first time since the school consolidated in the mid 1960s. The team consisted of daughters of classmates and granddaughters of friends, and the side cheering for the Warhawks consisted of every single one of the community members.

This is a big deal to small towns. This is their one chance to let the rest of the state know where their small community is located, show their pride for their school and come together for one common goal, to win a state championship. The rest of the year, this small town isn't much different than the one they were playing or could've played with a win in the tourny's first round. To small town Iowans, this is a big deal, something they have been preparing for after a long wait.

That large community I currently live in has a high school with a similar story to that of the Warhawks. The West High Lady of Troy earned a rare trip to Des Moines after compiling a 21-2 record. West High has had a history of losing girls basketball. Only recently have they turned their losing ways into success. But Iowa City is among the largest cities in the state and their identity is well-known between Iowa's river borders.

At the end of the week there will be four trophies awarded to towns of varying sizes. The Warhawks lost today, but another small town will find their way to the trophy stand, while Iowa City West, or city of similar stature will win the state's big prize. The girls on those teams will be proud of the accomplishment, but the trophy that will eventually sit in the case of the winning small town team will mean more to a community, it create pride that will extend throughout the county.

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