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By Jared Baldwin

On Wednesday October 8th the IIAAG High School Cross Country season concluded with the All Island meet at Yigo International Raceway. The Lady Bulldogs were awarded their first All Island team trophy as they were announced the 3rd place girls team. The team enjoyed celebrations and selfies as they took the trophy home.

Later that night the IIAAG sent out a brief email to the athletic directors of all of the high schools informing them that there was an error made in the awards ceremony and the Bulldogs had in actuality come in 4th place. The 3rd place honors belonged to the Harvest Christian Academy Lady Eagles.

By the next morning both coach Desmond Mandell of OHS and Jared Baldwin of HCA were aware of the problem. The coaches met that afternoon and devised a plan to turn this negative and potentially volatile experience into a positive life lesson.

On Tuesday afternoon, October 14th, the Eagles met the Bulldogs at the Bulldogs home course and had a reconciliation ceremony. First, the OHS Bulldogs decided to reenact the awards ceremony from the previous week, but this time, with the appropriate Lady Eagles as the 3rd place victors.

Coach Des Mandell spoke first and said, “I think it is the right thing to do, and I think for us, from our standpoint, we had a moment there but what really hurts us a lot is that it was a moment that should have been yours, and you deserved, and you worked for… and we really hurt that it was taken from you through no fault of your own… So I’d like to do the best we can to give you that moment so we are going to reenact the awards ceremony.”

This heartfelt speech was greeted with a few misty eyes from the Eagles athletes and parents and sincere smiles and cheers from the Bulldogs. Then Coach Mandell announced, “In 3rd place for the girls, with a total of 73 points, HARVEST CHRISTIAN ACADEMY!”

Both teams and all of the bystanders cheered and clapped and congratulated the Eagles. Then the Bulldogs graciously awarded the trophy displaying a unique spectacle of sportsmanship that isn’t always present in that level of competition.

After the cheers and the OHS Bulldogs leading the crowd in chanting “Harvest, Harvest, Harvest” coach Mandell followed up by mentioning that he knew it wasn’t as special as receiving the trophy at the race, to which one of the HCA senior girls spoke up and said, “This was better!”

Coach Baldwin then spoke and said, “We are so glad that you gave us this moment… In the big picture of life, down the road, we might not really remember who won and who didn’t win… but I think these types of memories over the years, if we learn to handle them right, they’ll stick with us our whole life. The type of person you are going to be is shaped by adversity. It’s a lot like cross country. The adversity and the toughness makes you a better runner and it’s adversity like this that makes us better people… and make us into the type of people God intended us to be.” Following that speech the Eagles presented each of the girls from the OHS team with an “Okkodo red” rose, a thank you note and a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Both teams feel like they will be friends for life. And although they intend to each outrun the other next year, they learned that there is much more to life than winning and losing and trophies.


OHS & HCA Team boys and girls. (courtesy photo)

OHS & HCA Team boys and girls. (courtesy photo)

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