Good morning 2020 Tomcats,
Your day has finally arrived. No more preparation and planning. It’s time to play.
My advice? Don’t blink because, when you do, it will be over. Blink again. It’s been 10 years since this day. Blink another time. You’re looking back on 20 years. Some of your brothers may no longer be here.
Blink again and it’s been 30 years.
Life is short, legacy is forever.
My favorite movie is “Remember the Titans.” I’m sure you’ve seen it. If the Titans had not won that championship game to complete that perfect season in Virginia, they may still be remembered but it would be in a different way. And that movie probably never happens.
The same goes for you. The 2020 Tomcats will be fondly remembered, no matter what happens today. But win and you’re legendary. You’ve been a salve for a community – a world for that matter – that has not only been hurting but turned upside down with a virus that won’t go away.
For Ashland, the 2020 Tomcats were like an early vaccine – a true shot in the arm for the entire community. We’ve rallied around you, cheered for you and watched you from our living rooms (thank you My Town TV) and listened to Dicky Martin talk about you like nobody else can over the airwaves. This week we praised you for the season that almost never happened because of the coronavirus. There hasn’t been much good about 2020 but Tomcat sports – the undefeated basketball team and now you – has been perfection. Forty-three games and counting.
A few days ago I sat down with Coach Herb Conley and Greg Jackson for a podcast and we talked about the 1975 JAWS Tomcat season. They were perfect after 14 games and captured the heart of a community like nothing I can ever remember. When it came to speaking about the St. Xavier championship game in what essentially was the Super Bowl of Kentucky football in 1975, they both became emotional. Tears welled up in Coach Conley’s eyes. “It still hurts,” he said, his voice cracking. Jackson was moved too as his memory zoomed back to that day.
St. Xavier, with a roster of 104 players, outmanned the Tomcats 20-0. It was an unfair advantage, but it was the cards Ashland was dealt. They were in the state’s biggest division, then called Class AAAA, and you play who you play.
It says so much that they are still so well remembered and even revered. I still say it’s one of the greatest Tomcat teams ever.
I’ve spoken with those Tomcats who completed the championship in 1990 and 1967. The euphoria and the gratification that goes with it is something even they can’t describe. They are state champions. That’s two words that carry a lot of weight and pride. You have the chance to join that club today.
Not only all that, but you have the opportunity to do what neither of them could do. Perfection is within sight. It’s only 48 game minutes away.
You may have heard the phrase “luck is when opportunity meets preparation.” I think there’s even more to it. If no action is taken when preparation and opportunity collide, nothing happens. It becomes a lost opportunity, a time when you will have wished you did something. That can also translate into regret.
Remember every second and let’s make sure Elizabethtown remembers the Tomcats.