The Comets put on a show Tuesday night that was on display as they stood listening to their coach. The habits, loves, and exercises of their daily lives, mentored and encouraged in love by families, friends, and teachers has created a unique character of the 2018 Comets that cast an entertaining performance before the opening tipoff.
Before the starting lineups were announced Coach Gregg Preston called his seniors to mid-court to address them. With the stands sitting on every word being spoken about the Comet leaders, the character of the class of 2018 was on display. It was a short treatise to reveal why so many Comet players focus on the game of life after the final buzzer of their last night in a Comet uniform sounds.
Preston spoke of the obstacles the 2018 team has faced, noting a special bond that has formed over the months the Comets have been forming around the game of Basketball. He spoke to their love for the Lord and their love for each other. He expressed how much joy the senior players bring to their families, and that has been shared with their classmates and teachers alike. His closing statements spoke to a unique aspect of this Comets team. All seven seniors, including managers, gathered at center court were honors students.
Following Preston's message the Comets geared up for a tough game. Battle Lake was looking to avenge a 53-38 loss on their home court. While the Comets led at half, Battle Lake slipped in more buckets in the second half, despite the Comets' lock down defense that kept the Battlers under 40 points. After the final buzzer the stands cleared under a scoreboard that had Battle Lake on top, 39-31. The Comet players gathered for a father-son commissioning with Coach Preston and their fathers in the Student Union.
The post-game connection is a decades-old tradition at Hillcrest. Fathers stand in the middle of the room, the eyes of players and coaches on them, as they extend a blessing on to their students. Sometimes father's recount the first moments of the life of their son, sharing stories never before shared in an intimate blessing and honoring of their son. The ritual is touching and incredibly powerful for players and fathers alike.
In the gathering father's spoke to how their sons have broken through awkward times to stand as a confident young man, leading their senior class. One father shared his concern for his son's college plans he had in August. Standing now in February the father shared reasons he has confidence that His son will do great things in college because he has seen the faith of his son develop over the past few months.
The managers were recognized as well. Coach Preston took one, noting the special character that has been revealed in one of the managers whose faith has taken root while at Hillcrest. He shared the incredible joy this manager brings to the team and the Preston family. Another manager was recognized for the incredible obstacles they have overcome, receiving an inner look into the father's heart who shared that his confidence in the Lord has grown as the manager has trusted in the Lord to overcome obstacles.
The evening gathering is designed to be a sacred knighting of the seniors before their team and coaches by their fathers. The special words are a statement of recognition that the senior athletes are not viewed as high school boys but are instead considered young men in their ability to handle the responsibilities of leading their team into playoffs. It is one of the first steps the Hillcrest seniors have taken this year in their march towards graduation where they will leave Hillcrest as equipped 18-year-olds in search of God's plan for their future. Their first steps are recognized in this small ceremony after a night of Basketball, and will be visited continually in conversations from coaches, teammates and fathers as they continue playing their minutes in the game of life that is only in the starting minutes of their life right now.