Sunday, November 25, 2012

Staying the Course

On Friday night we hit the Clifton Park Regal to see LINCOLN starring Daniel Day Lewis. The movie was amazing, the kind of flick you can discuss for hours. The story focused on Lincoln’s struggle to win the Civil War AND end slavery. Lincoln had ample opportunity to quell the bloodiest mess in US history if he left slavery alone, but Abe would hear none of it. He wanted both, because some wins are more important than other wins.

His cabinet told him the votes for the 13th amendment (end to slavery) did not exist and he risked everything by insisting on no war AND no slavery. But he did not relent, even though it complicated his personal life and risked his political legacy. He would not take the easy way out. In the end, he won both, and history remembers him as one of the nation’s most important presidents. He stayed the course and that made all the difference.

Lincoln’s battle has stayed with me all weekend. It was with me as I watched an undersized high school football team from Hoosick Falls claim the Class C NYS Title on Saturday. All week I'd heard the "cabinet” of football experts guaranteeing that Hoosick Falls had no chance against a bigger, better opponent in Hornell. Hornell hadn’t lost a game since ’08, 51&0 in that stretch, the longest streak in NYS. They were the three-time Class B Champions, and would surely cake walk to a fourth title in the lower Class C. Be happy you made it, Hoosick Falls, with your pint-sized offensive line and town population of three thousand. Why fight? Why stay the course? You have no chance.

Long story short, the Panthers came to play, and Hornell did not, choosing to believe their history would be enough this past Saturday in Syracuse. You can measure a person’s height/weight, for HF that was real short/real light, but you can’t measure a person’s determination to get 'er done. Not only did Hoosick Falls beat Hornell, that red-clad squad with their names stenciled on their backs, they CRUSHED them. The Red Raiders were left black and blue, win streak and championship run, finished. And in the end, a group of country kids who were ready to sacrifice everything to claim victory brought the first-ever state crown home. And, in my opinion, it’s one of the greatest championship stories I’ve ever heard. These kids stayed the course, they ignored popular opinion, and didn’t quit until every opponent was downed. In the end: 13&0.

Finally I thought of Hoosick Falls’ Head Coach, Ron Jones, a man who has obviously spent the better part of his adult life on a high school sideline. Coach Jones is now peppered with gray hair and a look that says he’s seen it all. He's done nothing but win at Hoosick Falls, an improbable feat perhaps, considering where and what Hoosick Falls is. And, despite all that winning, claiming a state crown was probably too much to hope for as a Panther, certainly a long shot against the mighty Red Raiders from Hornell. Maybe, along the way, Jones could’ve taken his laundry list of accolades to a bigger, richer school, and won a championship already, maybe a few, but he stayed the course. And today I’m willing to bet he wouldn’t trade this single championship for anything else in the world, because some wins are more important than other wins. I bet he's happy he didn’t take the easy way out. All those hours of film study I’m certain he’s burned, all those August doubles, all those heartbreaks along the way, were worth having this moment. I’ll bet.

In today’s America, where everyone wants to go from college to the corner office, Ron Jones, like Lincoln, is everything that is right about work ethic. There is no glory in taking the easy way out. There is no glory in winning by three when you’re favored by fifteen. Glory is staying the course. Then one day, after the long journey (because nothing worth doing is devoid of the long journey) you bring an outsized army to an unwinnable fight and stomp out the naysayers. Why? Because you’ve been waiting your whole life to fight this fight.

Nobody’s inspired by a 22 year old driving a Mercedes. Nobody’s inspired by “Dream Teams” in sports. It’s in the hardest times when character is built. It’s the willingness to dig deeper and fight longer that result in the greatest payout. Staying the course is the only way to win the most meaningful fights. One need not look further than Abraham Lincoln or Coach Ron Jones on that. For Coach Jones, like Lincoln, belongs to the ages now.

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Brian Huba


  1. Thank you, this is very kind. And no, I wouldn't have changed one thing along the way. Hoosick Falls is the best! We have a very special community. I glad I was part of this community accomplishment.


    Ron Jones

  2. Wow, an amazing story! You didn't just write about a movie or a football game, you wrote an amazing piece about any journey! Inspirational! Congrats HFCS and Ron!

  3. Mark & Carol FolgertNovember 28, 2012 at 6:11 PM

    Was born and brought up in Hoosick Falls, just like most of my neighbors. Ron is one of the reasons we stay here.

  4. Very wonderful story!
    Go Hoosick Falls! :)