Sticking together through tough times

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sports has always been our escape. When times are tough, we tend to lean on watching the big game or find an outlet by picking up a ball.

Throughout the past few months, I’ve talked with numerous players or coaches that have used a sport, most importantly a team, to get through a challenging time. Most recently was the detainment of former Spain Park track and field captain Imad Mohammad.

During his time in a Jena, La., jail, Imad remained encouraged through letters written by former teammates, and thanks to the love of a former coach, his case became made aware in the media. It’s that media attention that Imad partially credits for his release last week.

Imad’s story has many angles, but one that has not been told as much is that of his teammates and coach. Being on a team is much more than having a group of peers that allow you to play a game and escape the hardships that you may face in real life. The team is one’s fraternity, a second family that will carry you through the real-life tough times.

In the week’s leading up to Imad’s story, two coaches in the area suffered a heart attack or stroke. Others have had medical issues in recent past. During this time, it is the phone calls from players that help speed a recovery. When a player loses a parent or sibling and the team provides support at the funeral, it helps prepare for the season that opens the following week.

Imad’s story is just the most recent one to get attention, but there are many other stories out there where a teammate needs a teammate.

Spain Park track’s outreach to Imad came largely because of Imad’s outreach to them over the years, providing constant encouragement during his time on the track team.

Many athletes, coaches and fans can be Imad, the one who encourages daily in order to help see others around him succeed. In turn, you never know when that person who you helped keep on the team may return the favor.

Outside the Lines is a weekly opinion column.