Friday, March 15, 2013

SHOUP SHOTS: It's okay to be proud of your high school

 by Nathan Shoup, Sports Editor

Some people loved high school. Others didn’t. Regardless of the experience, however, returning to a former high school campus creates a unique situation.
When returning, you see familiar faces — some you have missed, others you have not. You are reminded of the countless memories in the hallways you once walked. Some of those memories you miss, others you don’t.
On Monday I returned to my high school, Woodland High, in southwest Washington. I made the hour-and-a-half trip down I-5 to watch my first Beaver baseball game since the final game of my senior season four years ago.
My youngest brother Aaron, a sophomore, was making his first varsity start. It was time to watch a Beaver baseball game from the stands.

The players on the field were different. The uniforms were new. The coaching staff had completely changed. The emotions were the same. I was anxious.
Now an alumni, I cared much more about the final score than I thought I was going to. I am not alone with this feeling either. Two weekends ago, the 4A and 3A state basketball championships were held at the Tacoma Dome. Facebook and Twitter were littered with pictures and posts of alumni in the Tacoma Dome bragging about their former high schools.
Twitter told me Curtis High School, in University Place, won the 4A men’s state championship. A lot of proud Vikings were walking around campus last week.
My brother’s game on Monday wasn’t for a state championship. It was Woodland’s first game of the season. And Woodland isn’t nearly the size of Curtis — it’s a 1A school. But that’s not how I saw it.
I was watching the team I continue to proudly affiliate myself with four years after graduating. And after being a large influence on my youngest brother’s baseball career, I was watching him start in a varsity baseball game as a sophomore.
When my family moved into our first home in Woodland, we had a huge backyard. We played whiffle ball in that yard on an almost daily basis.
Teaching Aaron to hit a ball off a tee, his binky in mouth, is one of my first memories in that yard. The grass wasn’t even in yet. We played on dirt and rocks.
Watching him play on Monday, in the same number I wore in high school — 4 — brought everything full circle. My youngest brother was wearing my jersey on the baseball team I once called my own.
With his team trailing 6-2, Aaron pitched a scoreless top of the fifth inning. His team scored nine runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and hung onto the 11-6 victory, giving Aaron the win in his first varsity pitching outing. All on the same mound I threw on four years ago.
Aaron started the game in left field. It was only fitting that in his first varsity start, the first batter of the game hit a line drive his way. No problem. He casually caught the liner and lobbed the ball into second base.
He is still waiting to get his first swing in however. He walked in each of his first three at-bats, not offering at a single pitch, and scored twice.
I was proud watching my youngest brother play. I was proud watching my alma mater play. And regardless of your high school experience there is no shame in a prideful return to your former school.
You graduated from that school. You earned to the right to care.