March Madness. Last Saturday I drove up to Madison, Wisconsin, to watch basketball at the Kohl Center. No, I was not there for Badgers–I was there to see Racine Lutheran High School play in the Division 5 State Championship game. I had been hearing all year what a great team they had, and I was thrilled to actually be there to see my nephew, Ty Demuth, play.
The stories were true–the team played very well together, seamlessly passing the ball and working to get the shot. Though Racine Lutheran led throughout the game, the score remained close–and got too close in the last seconds. Just before the buzzer, Sheboygan Lutheran shot a three-pointer and won the game.
I now have a new appreciation for the term “stunned silence.” While cheers were exploding on the far side of the Kohl Center, we purple-clad Racine Lutheran fans stood in silent stupor. We watched our players, still scattered on the court, come to grips with what had just happened.
Nobody writes books or makes movies about the team that comes in second. But maybe we should. They played like champions, and were gracious in defeat. I wonder, too, if our character is not better defined by how we handle life’s disappointments, than how we handle the triumphs. The rejected manuscript. The lost job. The chronic illness. The broken relationship.
Ty was quoted in the Racine Journal Times after the game. “It’s a life lesson,” he said. “You know, we have challenges in our life and we’ve got to get over them. This is one of them. “Soon, all will be back to normal and good and everything and we’ll be happy again. But this is a sad day.”
A bittersweet day, for sure. But Ty and the rest of the Racine Lutheran High are champions in my book.