"We're just really hoping this is our year and we make the playoffs. We were so close last year."
This is not a recent quote from a St. Mary wrestler. Nor was it a Huron quarterback, a Perkins' pitcher, a Sandusky sprinter or a Margaretta point guard.
Many athletes over the years have said something similar, and they were deserving of the praise and respect received for their efforts in the athletic arena.
But these words were said by Randall Ruggles, senior and team captain for Port Clinton's Firelands Challenge team, Ruggles, along with numerous other students from area schools faced off against each other in a war of the minds during this version of an academic challenge. The tools of the competition sit between the ears of the competitors. American literature, physical sciences and quotations, world history, vocabulary, music, mathematics and life sciences, U.S. government, great books, American history and fine arts lay out the playing field for the contestants.
Their efforts are no less worthy of praise than that of football, basketball or baseball players. They put their time in practicing just the same as those on page B1 of this newspaper. Sure, they may not sweat or risk injury in the process, yet the ability to compete at a high level on this playing field takes skills not possessed by many students.
So as these young minds continue to grow and compete, let's shine the light on them for a change.
Sports are a vital part of what high school is all about. It's just nice to see students getting praise for a public display of the main purpose of their time at school -- learning.
It may not be easy to tell by reading this, but we're on our feet here cheering for you, your parents and teachers for all the "practice" it takes to reach this level of competition.