Our eighth–grade son’s traveling youth basketball career came to an end. For the past five years he played with mostly the same group of kids, and we spent nearly every weekend during the winter months sitting in gyms with the other families. The friendships will continue, but as we watched the last tournament at Stillwater High School, we were kind of sad. It’s the end of an era for our family.

We have watched this group of kids grow up. As families, we have celebrated milestones and even gone through some triumphs and tragedies together. Many of these boys will continue to play basketball at a more competitive level in high school, and I look forward to watching them.

I’ve always believed the value of youth sports is as much about learning life skills as athletic skills. What youth athletes gained by participating is, perhaps, a lifelong interest, whether they enjoy watching baseball, or playing on a softball team with their co-workers at their first job. Maybe they will become a mom or dad who coaches someday. They might be a better future employee because they learned at a young age how to show respect for a coach, and how to work toward the greater good as a member of a team. They will be successful because they know how to set and work toward achieving a goal. Maybe they will make friends easier because they have experienced camaraderie and how to be a good teammate. Perhaps they will live more active, healthy lives because of the habits instilled early on. The list goes on.


85th birthday

A party was planned to celebrate my dad’s 85th birthday. My sister worked to get 85 birthday cards sent. Loads of cards arrived in his mailbox every day, and he was thrilled. It’s a good reminder how a personal note can make a difference. Many were unique, such as a giant card with a photo collage and a witty poem.

This past year, our team at Press has covered the unique ways people are celebrating birthdays in the pandemic. These milestone celebrations may not turn out the way families expected but may end up being the most memorable.


Hiding behind screens

A new superpower comes alive when one is seated behind a screen. The power allows people to share their thoughts through email messages and social media posts with a confidence they never would have when engaging others face to face. The elixir of truth is alive when one is hiding behind a screen. Like we tell our kids, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it.” Or, at least think long and hard before saying it. Think about it for a day before sending a hateful email or writing something nasty in a social media post.

Citizens who care about the community and the local paper share concerns with us all the time. We don’t always get it right, but we will acknowledge when we make mistakes and try to clarify or correct it. We are thankful for our readers, our community members who send us notes or call when they have a story idea, concern or complaint and allow us a chance to fix it. This is called citizenship.

To those inclined to share complaints about our local business on social media, I ask you to pick up the phone instead. Businesses make mistakes and should be afforded the opportunity to correct them before their reputation is tarnished in a post. If you have a bad experience, reach out to the manager or owner before broadcasting it to the masses. They deserve and want the opportunity to make things right.

I have great hope we all can do better to make our community better. Grow friendships in person. If you feel that superpower strength coming on and want to make a comment, write it down and let it sit for a day. Even better get a friend to proof it before you send it. The wrong words can destroy. Addressing concerns in a respectful way can help us all grow and prosper. 


Carter Johnson is publisher of Press Publications.

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