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January 7, 2013

HUNTER: It’s just a game, right?

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — If you weren’t at Borden High School Saturday night, you missed a great high school game. By now by reading Kevin Harris’ article on the contest in the News and Tribune, you know that Borden’s 19-year wait to get another crack at West Clark sister school Silver Creek finally ended.

You also know that unfortunately for the host Braves, they could not find a way to defeat the Dragons for the third time in program history. Silver Creek snapped a three-game losing streak in knocking off Borden, 60-51 again by reading Harris’ article.

But what you might not know unless you were there, but maybe have heard about are two moments that occurred before the game that was worth the $5 admission.  

Borden athletic director Toby Cheatham’s daughter Josey has sung the national anthem many times at BHS before basketball games, often with the help of an older student, Erika Frascella.

But Saturday, Josey was singing by herself with Erika standing beside her. Josey has a sweet voice as a fourth-grader at Borden Elementary School, and you can imagine the courage it takes to sing in front of 2,200-plus people, especially the national anthem.

Mid way through the song, she messed up and the crowd laughed. It wasn’t a laugh at her, but one with her. One that everyone who did laugh felt for her, they understood the tender moment that was unfolding.

Josey began to sing again. But by now, she was upset. She stopped and said, “I can’t do this.” Erika helped and began singing with her and what happened then is what makes you proud to live in small town Southern Indiana.

The entire crowd, most people from both communities, joined in and helped Josey to finish. If there was courage involved to start, imagine how tough she had to be to finish, but it had to be made easier due to the two West Clark rivals’ crowds helping.

Then came more of a planned event.

Longtime Borden resident Ed Kirchgessner was in attendance.

What makes that special?

He is the grandfather of Borden’s Billy Kirchgessner and Silver Creek’s Nick Kirchgessner, but also has Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

SC’s Nick probably hasn’t started a varsity game this season, but that changed Saturday. Speaking with SC coach Brandon Hoffman before the game, he told me that there was a plan to start Nick for SC and allow he and Billy of Borden to score the first four points of the game.

Then the game ball would be presented to their grandfather, Ed. When speaking to Borden coach Doc Nash, he said that it was Coach Hoffman’s idea. But as soon as he heard of the idea, it was a quick “for sure” on his part.

I realize that some people don’t like Coach Nash and some people don’t like Coach Hoffman. Heck, I know that many people don’t like me, some who actually read these articles.

But I am proud to be friends with both coaches. I am proud to speak with Coach Hoffman about his faith and to attend the Borden Church of Christ with Coach Nash.

I am proud to live in an area where fans, players and coaches can see that there are some things that transcend sports. I am proud to know two men like Coach Hoffman and Coach Nash who are willing to do the right thing — to heck with the game.

Because it is just a game, right?

But this is Indiana and it is a game until the ball goes up on the jump ball, then it’s life and death.

Perry Hunter is a Henryville High School teacher and a former coach of the school’s boys’ basketball team. You can visit his blog at coachperryhunter.blogspot.com.

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