A Hall of Fame coach I used to work with once had the best line ever when it came to dealing with today’s young people. At the time he had been coaching for about 30 years, meaning he had seen generational shifts between the kids from when he first started coaching to those he was dealing with in the present day.
To the untrained eye, that difference is sharp in contrast. However, this coach didn’t see it that way. Speaking at a fundraising event, he said, “People ask me how I deal with the difference in today’s kids. Kids aren’t different today, they’re still kids, they’re just kids with cell phones.” I guess that’s why he’s a local hall of famer.
Since that day I’ve looked at younger generations the same way and found that saying to be true. This past Friday night I was asked to return to Tehachapi High School and judge the Mr. Warrior event, fully knowing we already have great young men and women who attend our local high school. Yet I again was taken aback by the quality of individuals we are producing in this town.
The part of the competition that sparked my interest, naturally, was the verbal response portion. Considering communication is critical to success, I was interested in how these young men answered the question “What does it mean to be a Warrior?” It's a simple question on the surface, but if you’re like me and grew up in this town, you know there is weight to an answer like that.
What I heard was encouraging, thoughtful, impactful and reassuring that the traditions, not only of this high school, but of this town, are in safe hands for generations to come.
So, what does it mean to be a Warrior? I’ll let some of the young men who competed Friday night answer that.
“It’s never backing down in the face of adversity… It’s emulating the characteristics of a Warrior, it’s representing God, your family, your community and your school to the best of your abilities... It boils down to being the best you that you can be...Being a Warrior is caring for one another, we may be a small town but we care for each other…Warriors endure to the end, Warriors take care of their own…Being a Warrior is being respectful and keeping your hometown morals in tact when you leave this place.”
“What sets us Warriors apart from everyone else is our adaptability to change, and our respect for tradition, it’s the reason that our law enforcement officers have a Warriors decal stuck to the rear windshield of their cruisers, it’s the reason that I know that whatever I’ve done, wherever I’ve gone this whole town has been right behind me and subsequently I give my best, I have to give my all because I represent this entire town…I’m not scared because as I go on, this town, through its tradition has taught me to adapt to the change, to roll with the punches and to keep moving with confidence and pride, this is what it means to be a Warrior and this is why I will always be a Warrior.”
What does it mean to be a Warrior? I don’t think I could have said it any better myself. Leave it to the kids with cell phones to remind us that traditions never change around here, and the characteristics of a Warrior are etched in stone, and in the hearts of all those that have come before and will grace this sacred land in the years to come.
Corey Costelloe has covered the NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides and works in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.