By Mitch Howard
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
There were a lot of tears after the North Laurel Lady Jaguars lost to Corbin in the first round of the 49th District Tournament. It was the end of the career for All State keeper Kendall Ellington, Kendra Smallwood, and Amy Corum. It was the finale of a season when the Lady Jaguars felt and showed they could compete with the Lady Redhounds.
If you could erase a late goal by Amerah Dixon, the outcome could have been different. Dixon did what great players do. She stepped up and made an impossible shot at an impossible angle at a time her team had to have it. I do not know Dixon, but wanted to tell her it may have been the most amazing goal I had seen at the high school level. At this level, success should be celebrated for every player.
The loss was not what all the tears were about.
Late in the first half North Laurel’s Allison Blanton collided with Corbin keeper Sydni Roaden. It was a horrible accident that left Roaden with a broken jaw, broken teeth, and a helicopter ride to Lexington to face hours of surgery.
The mood of some fans turned nasty. Blanton was making a fair play for the ball. She was given a yellow card, but it was as much to appease the fans as anything she had done wrong.
Most troubling to me was that for the second time this season, South Laurel trainer Karen Broughton was treated rudely. She doesn’t need me to defend her because Momma K is tougher than I will ever be. Just let it be said as plain as possible that she will care for your child professionally and with love regardless of what you say to her. She does not see a team jersey or an opponent lying on the ground, she sees hurting child. But when she is spoken to rudely or told to leave, I wish the officials could red card the offender for being obnoxious. She is the best friend the child has at that point. Shut up and let her work.
Even before this event, the cheering took a turn for the ugly. Every time another player touches your little Susie or Sally it is not a foul. Every time there is a call against you it is not cheating. Occasionally your opponent will do something right that results in a goal.
To say that North Laurel would coach its players to play dirty is foolishness. I have been to most games and some practices. My daughter plays at the middle school level. You can say that keeps me from making an objective opinion. I say it gives me insight. North Laurel is coached to play hard, but with respect. Most games they needed to be more aggressive, not less.
Fans have a right to cheer and even boo. To jeer another player at this level is not necessary. Celebrate the good because high school sports are about building character and encouraging kids. It is not about trying to hurt anyone. Nothing should come out of your mouth that you wouldn’t say to your own team.