by John Unrein
“Proud to be an Eagle” read the Twitter post for May 14th from Grain Valley High School Activities. The cause for celebration was Grain Valley finishing the spring sports conference season with an undefeated conference record. Baseball, boys track, girls track, boys tennis, boys golf, and girls soccer all won Suburban Conference titles. A feat worth celebrating due to the hard work put forth by student athletes, coaches, and administration.
Making the achievement even more special is that it is the first time for a clean sweep in the history of Grain Valley High School, per Activities Director Brandon Hart.
“Grain Valley has been close to this accomplishment, but there have always been one or two programs that fell short in the conference standings. Winning a conference title is a nice accomplishment for each individual program, but when considering each title on its own, I would not consider it a major accomplishment,” Hart said.
“However, when you consider that all six spring sports accomplished this task in a single season, it demonstrates a school culture where athletes and coaches support each other. We have multiple kids that can participate in various spring sports because of the culture of Grain Valley. I see baseball kids attend soccer games and vice versa.”
Hart finished, “Success and winning is contagious in a positive environment, and we have been fortunate this spring season to reap the benefits.”
Team unity, making competition fun, and coaches providing specific instruction that is well received by student athletes has been a noticeable formula for success by the Eagles. The boys varsity baseball team dyeing their hair blond during the 2019 season displayed unanimity. The girls varsity track team this spring conducting an informal dance party after the team stretch at the start of practice has provided more than a few smiles. The directions given by head tennis coach Randy Draper on how to follow through on a backhand swing catches the attention of his players.
Success has pushed the Eagles sports programs further into a growth mindset. Continued progress is the goal. An expectation that starts with Hart and continues through the coaching ranks.
“It does not matter how many conference titles you win; successful programs always seek improvement. We have never won a MSHSAA state championship, and I know every coach and player strives to win a state championship,” Hart said.
“However, the goal of a high school educational program is never to win. The goal is to focus on the preparation and processes it takes to be successful. If we can accomplish this goal, winning conference, district, and state titles will follow.”
Hart added, “We are proud of our accomplishments this spring, and we celebrate our successes, but we also understand there is always more work to do to get better.”
Getting to be a student athlete means that you get to put your school’s name on your uniform and represent it doing something that you love. The lessons learned through competition and sportsmanship tend to last a lifetime. Bonds created with teammates and coaches are something rarely forgotten. Grain Valley continues to add the pride associated with winning to their identity.