RAMBLINGS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Some random thoughts while wondering how many people remember my name by relating it to Ted Koppel….

* * *

Although Tabor College seems to be an exception, with numerous students performing exemplary tasks such as mission work and community service, too often the news generated by today’s youth seems to focus on the negative.

Let me tell you about another exception. During Tabor’s games at Lindsborg on Saturday, a friend of mine-who was proudly wearing “Tabor College” clothing- made a purchase at the concession stand for $5.25. She handed the young man from Bethany College $20.25, but walked away without waiting for her change.

Unaware of her faux pas, she returned to her seat to enjoy her purchase. Moments later, the young concessionaire sought her out and returned her $15 in change.

Chalk one up for the younger generation.

* * *

Having surpassed my second anniversary with the Free Press, I am constantly reminded of how fortunate I am to meet so many friendly people during the course of my work.

Whether it’s coaches, players or parents of athletes whose games I’m covering, the number of folks I’ve befriended and look forward to seeing at games or elsewhere is amazing.

Makes me feel like I’m going to a family reunion with every event I cover. And that’s a good thing.

It’s a pleasure to be able to be the “eyes” of the community at sporting events.

Thanks to all the quality folks I’ve met and teams I cover, it doesn’t seem like a job at all.

* * *

Coming down the home stretch of the basketball season already, I’m reminded I live in Hillsboro because the talk of the town-in addition to the high-flying Tabor Bluejays-is the Trojan boys’ basketball team.

With an undefeated season in progress and a team ranked No. 3 in Class 3A, people are already making plans for their March excursion to Hutchinson for the state basketball tournament.

What often gets overlooked is the remarkable job coach Darrel Knoll and his staff do each year to prepare their teams for post-season play.

Many towns in Kansas have fans who are just as avid about their local teams as the Trojan boosters are. But few reach the state tournament.

It would be a shame if people in Hillsboro overlooked the hard work and dedication necessary not only from the coaches, but the players themselves to reach the state tournament year after year.

The hope is that the Trojans can once again make it to Hutchinson to compete for a state title, but don’t take things for granted.

The worst kind of fans are the spoiled fans.

* * *

Don’t overlook Becky Carlson’s Trojan girls either. Carlson brings over 300 career victories and a level of success of her own to the table as well.

* * *

This Thursday night, when the Sterling College basketball teams come to town, people in the Hillsboro area will have an opportunity to do something that seldom happens in college athletics: watch two games in one night and at one venue that could determine two regular-season conference champions.

The Tabor women, winners of 17 straight games and ranked No. 9 in this week’s NAIA Division II poll, will bring a 22-4 season record and 15-1 mark in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

The defending KCAC champion Sterling Warriors also own a 22-4 season record and sit just one game behind Tabor at 14-2.

A win by the Bluejay women would earns them the outright conference title, home-court advantage throughout the post-season KCAC tournament and punches their ticket for the NAIA national tournament in Sioux City, Iowa, in early March.

The Tabor men, meanwhile, are riding an eight-game winning streak and find themselves tied for the KCAC lead with the Sterling at 12-4.

A win by either team clinches at least a tie for the conference title with just one game to play.

Sterling defeated Tabor on Jan. 15, 69-59, so payback would be extra sweet.

It would be a shame if Tabor Gymnasium wasn’t filled to capacity on Thursday night.

And don’t come just to see the second half of the women’s game. Be there before 6 p.m. to support them for the whole game.

Where else can you get four hours of entertainment, meet new friends and be a part of history-for less than the cost of a movie?

See you at the game.

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