Between You & Me




I usually try to refrain from screaming in public, but sometimes I just can’t help myself.

Friday night was one of those times.

I was standing along the sidelines of the Bismarck Event Center, camera in hand, attempting to pretend I didn’t have a bias. But every time the opponent pulled ahead, my jaw clenched. And when our boys scored, a smile crept across my face.

I didn’t try to feign impartiality throughout the night, shamelessly clapping for the Miners as they battled the No. 2 seed, questionable calls, and some state competition nerves.

My heart sank every time the lead slipped away, and I felt my stomach turn as call after call favored the opponent.

And when one of our players nailed a three-pointer, or some excellent defense stopped the other team in their tracks, I couldn’t stifle a cheer from behind my camera lens.

My heart was in the game more than it had ever been watching my old high school teams. In a class of 350 students, the connections between our classmates and the school pride didn’t run as deep as it does in our rural communities.

But the love, the loyalty and the unity are as clear to see as the ocean of blue crowding the event center stands this week.

Even as a new and somewhat transient part of the Beulah community, my loyalty and my cheers were solely directed at the Miners this week.

And when I got into my car Friday night, my pulse was feeling a little elevated as adrenaline made its way through my body. It had been a great night of basketball, a captivating and sweat-inducing game, even if the end score wasn’t what we had hoped.

Sitting down at my computer to go through an embarrassingly excessive number of photos, I started to relive the moments. The last-second shot that tied the game, the screaming fans froze in time as they strained vocal cords to cheer on their boys, the stress and the strain, the overwhelming jubilation.

I sorted through the photos until after midnight, whittling them down to a reasonable-ish number. And as I scrolled through the shots documenting the night, I found myself again unable to contain the shock and awe, the grins, the occasional sinking feeling in my gut.

But it was rarely the action shots that caused me to pause.

I stopped when I came across a picture of two fans embracing each other, smiles spread wide across their faces as they screamed in glee.

I stopped when I saw the tension on the coaching team’s faces as referees debated a controversial call.

But more than anything, I stopped for the quiet moments between teammates, friends, and even opponents.

Like the picture of one Miner player consoling another, an arm around his shoulder, the suspense caught on the faces of 50 fans as the game hit a crucial point, the pair of girls who stood alone minutes after the game ended, still applauding their team.

The moments were brief, passing silently as screams and applause erupted elsewhere in the gym. But they were the important moments, the ones during which comradery topped everything else, where people came together.

Those are the moments I live for, the ones that show people instinctively supporting one another, the moments where we are reminded that success can be found outside of victories and that champions don’t only exist in first place.

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