Nick’s Notes: The Joy of a New Start

MARSHALL-It was worth nothing, but it was worth everything to Ethan Boeck.

The Mustang Athletics schedule poster that he just got autographed by members of the men’s basketball, women’s basketball, football, soccer, and volleyball teams was going on his wall. The poster was big enough to be a beach towel for the little guy.

He didn’t say much, but he looked at it with silent wonder and a slight smile. While basketball players know the joy of a good jump shot and football players know the joy of a good catch, it’s nice to see that Mustangs know the joy of signing an autograph with a good pen.

At 6:30 p.m. on Friday night, a few dozen members of the Mustang teams sat at plastic tables just outside of the Schwan’s Event Center waiting for fans to come up and get their autographs. The knees of some basketball players bumped the table.

It took a few minutes for fans to come even though there was a white sandwich board that said “Autograph Session: 6:30”. Members of the volleyball team went two-by-two to hand out posters to a crowd feasting on pulled pork and corn on the cob.

They trickled to the table. Some were silent. Some were smiling. Some didn’t know how this worked.

“Do I get to sign it?” said Joey Bartlett, number 15 on the basketball team, to a little girl who thought that she was supposed to sign her name.

The Mustangs were generous in giving out their names to fans, both young and old. They signed posters and white sheets of paper printed with the Mustangs logo on it.

“It’s kind of fun being out there, getting my name out there,” said Bartlett. “Getting our name out there,” he quickly added.

With school on the horizon and the smell of barbecue in the air, every kid that came up to the table left with a smile on their face or at least something they could hang on their wall. It was the closest some of these kids and fans will get to someone they believe to be famous.

Even if the Mustang signatures aren’t worth anything on eBay, they’ll be put on walls and refrigerators all over Lyon County. That’s valuable real estate, especially to kids who dream of one day wearing the brown and gold (and gray.) “You’re like a role model,” said Emilee Gutzmer, a junior setter on the Volleyball team as kids went down the line.

Most of us have heard the old “Wide World of Sports” tagline, “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.” Those are part of the game, but so is the joy of making a kid smile.