To the high school athletes who get it right

We started out this week observing that the previous few days were not the best for high school sports. Then a few days later came the story of the Tennesse high school teams who both tried to lose the game. Classy stuff, indeed

So it’s heartwarming that the week ends with CBS’ Steve Hartman calling our attention to some kids on the boys basketball team at a Texas prep school, who wanted someone to cheer for their opponents.

Nobody usually did because their opponent was a juvenile prison.

“My parents came to one game but they didn’t come to the other ones because they didn’t have time,” said one player on the Gainesville Tornadoes.

So the kids at Vanguard College Prep went to work.

The Gainesville players had no idea what was happening. They walked onto the court to find their own signs of support, their own cheerleaders, even their own fan section. Half the crowd was assigned to cheer for Gainesville. But as the game went on, everybody started to cheer for Gainesville.

“I mean every time they scored the gym was just lit up with cheering and clapping and everyone was on their feet,” said (Vanguard player Hudson)Bradley. “I think in a way this is kind of how sports should be. It just kind of showed me the real impact that encouragement and support for anybody can make.”

Bradley says we all need someone to believe in us. We all need someone who knows our mistakes and loves us anyway. And for that, the Gainesville players can’t thank those boys enough.

The story was originally reported in the Waco Tribune.

Vanguard made T-shirts with the Tornadoes’ emblem and “We Believe” printed on the bottom. The school also split its cheerleading team, with a portion leading cheers for Gainesville and the remaining girls cheering for Vanguard.

The freshman and sophomore classes formed a spirit line for the visiting team to run through, and each Gainesville player was announced before the game began.

Vanguard administrators decided to share their fan base after the Vikings played in Gainesville in early January and the players were concerned about the Tornadoes’ lack of support.

Vanguard’s Hudson Bradley said his teammates wanted to encourage their opponents because they were the kindest, most considerate of all the teams Vanguard has played so far this season.

The idea came about when Grapevine Faith’s football team played Gainesville in 2008 and organized a similar move to show support for the Gainesville players, he said.

Bradley said no player should be without fans.

“It’s just a huge confidence boost,” he said. “When you do something good — and even something bad — the fans are always there to pick you up throughout the game.”

Update 2/28 2:28 p.m.– Here’s the story on that 2009 football game.