Pride is special in one-school communities

Not too long ago, a good assessment of community pride could be seen in the ways people supported their high school teams.

That was when each town had one high school. Of today’s 13 Snohomish County school districts, 11 still have only one high school, three have three or more, and one (Index) has no high school.

Once upon a time, all Snohomish County cities had only one high school. But when towns go big time, population requires more than one high school. Loyalties have to change as community unity and pride are split. When only one team put pride on the block, the entire community defended it.

Kids who played together "since the third grade" are on different teams. Even though it is only a game, pride used to be just attending games and supporting "our kids." For players, pride was representing an entire united community. For adults, unification was communicable.

That was before high schools had huge student parking lots. That’s when most kids walked or rode bikes to and from school. Kids were anxious to try out every sports season to make the team. Two buses were called a school district fleet.

Before an "overflow crowd" in the Snohomish gym, Edmonds played an out-of-county basketball team, Skykomish, in the 1940 County Tournament and lost 28-25. The Edmonds Tigers led 21-14 at the half and 25-21 at the end of the third quarter. The Tigers were scoreless the last quarter and neither team scored the last four minutes of the game.

Marysville was the 1940 county champion, 39-26 over Snohomish. Louie Morse and Elton Cornelius combined for 25 points for the Tomahawks. During the 1937-38 season, Morse went from being the team manager to star status. And in those days the uniforms had only numbers on them.

Sports seasons were simple. When fall ended, football ended, then winter and basketball began. When spring and track began, basketball ended. That’s when the best high school athletes played football, basketball and track in every school.

All schools had a basketball team, nearly all had football and track teams, and in most towns baseball teams played in a summer league or picked up games one at a time

Players even bought their own Keds basketball shoes, put them on in the morning and took them off only before going to bed. And sometimes a player’s shoes didn’t match. More than a few had to grow into an older brother’s athletic shoes.

Clean socks were for games. There was stateliness in clean socks and other under-uniform attire. About once a week, socks were washed while taking an after-practice shower and then hung in a locker to dry. Soon locker rooms had ventilation fans, washers, and dryers. Varsity athletes now expect, rather than respect, fresh socks and shoes.

Locker room aromas have all but disappeared along with the dignity and appreciation for appearance. In our rush to support programs financially with gifts, we forget kids should learn that real self-respect is earned through effort, not received as a donation. Today it’s hard to find an athlete of any age washing anything. Some don’t even shower.

Those were great years. It was before Edmonds built a second high school. And shortly thereafter, in the district that built the first school in Snohomish County (Rose Hill Grade School, Mukilteo) built its first high school (Mariner High School, 1970).

Pilchuck alumni remember that two high schools in Marysville had a brief history before being united as Marysville-Pilchuck. Pilchuck alumni are distinctive and special. Snohomish has maintained one high school, rejecting a number of attempts to build an in-district rival. Snohomish adopted a ninth grade campus to make room for grades 10-12 on the Panther campus.

During the enrollment decline, Edmonds was combined with Woodway High School. They share football facilities with three other district high schools. Mukilteo now has Kamiak and Mariner, friendly but intense rivals.

Separate high schools, usually built on a foundation of population demand, divide more than athletic loyalties and support. New schools attract rivalries and automatically establish a desire to be better than your neighbor. All the while vested agendas are circling and bombarding education for equalization. Equal but better.

Youth learn in sports to expect an equal opportunity to compete, to prove, to achieve the best one can be. To decree all will be better than everyone else, athletically or academically, is not equalization.

Rivalries and competition run in circles, yet they are teammates. Academic, athletic and activity programs build school pride and self-pride builds school academic standards, activity opportunities, and athletic achievement.

Pride never stops running in circles and cycles. Where choices of who and what to be proud of exist, winning attracts narcissism. Egotism should be temporary. If good, fair competition doesn’t bring pride to accomplishment, then mediocrity will become the acceptable standard. Whether in athletics or academics, kids rise to the competition if given enough time and help.

So, where did all the pride go? Probably not with wheels and big parking lots as much as with split loyalties or expecting others to wash our socks. Maybe the list of things of which we are proud has diminished. Maybe criticism killed it.

Isn’t one-school, one-community pride simply choosing a child, who is trying to make us proud, and telling that child why we are proud of her or him?

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