Once in a while, beings of greatness come together as humans, aligning themselves with something larger than self, so that the collective power of those who are gathered is mystically greater than the presence of all the individual strengths within the group.
I would like to suggest that the 2008 Central High School football team is such a phenomenon: a power measureless by our limited devices, yet so strongly felt somewhere deep within us that it changes us and makes us better simply because we touched it.
This particular group of young people isn't just another good football team. Good football teams consistently speak and practice what they already know.
When a teammate is down, however, and it becomes impossible to practice what is known, a great football team will tap its creative ability to put into action all things possible. By definition then, this Dragon squad is a great football team.
Every Central fan who saw Lucas Runk tackled to the ground in the PIAA playoff game against Wilmington could feel the anguish screaming not only from his left knee but from his broken heart as well. Many of us felt deeply brokenhearted for his broken heart. Some of us suddenly felt, well, small.
In football, as in life, we are reminded of the greatness that comes through teamwork: Like-minded individuals coming together for a common good, maybe even to birth a miracle. And so it was, on the night of Nov. 28, 2008, that one great football team found itself broken yet open to possibility.
Tapping into its ''larger than self'' energy and using ''the only thing constant is change'' format, this newly reorganized Dragon team went to work expressing its creative abilities, thinking and playing with heart, and shining in spite of its brokenness.
This team remained, in each moment, a force to be reckoned with, until the clock signaled an end to the game, which left the opponent victor by a very slim margin.
I am always lifted when I see young people reaching for something big in spite of any language from well-meaning adults who might suggest that they are reaching for something unattainable. I like to think of this particular Dragon team as a cornucopia of gifts within our community, sharing with us such things as enthusiasm, hope, creativity, integrity, faithfulness, strength, unconditional love, determination, flexibility and fun.
This team has stirred us in ways the NFL could never hope to, and we are grateful for the contributions now and in the future. Whether on the football field or as respected citizens of the world's community, this year's Dragons called forth that which is great in each of us watching.
(Note: The writer is the stepmother of Central High School football coach A.J. Hoenstine).
Deer collisions are unavoidable
I would like to address the woman who blamed hunters for deer-vehicle collisions in last week's Mailbag.
Her statistic that there is a 500 percent increase in collisions on the first day of buck season is correct (according to Erie Insurance Company). That is one day out of the year. And there's no denying that hunters, at times, are the reason for deer running onto the roadways.
But whether she wants to believe it or not, there is a large increase in the amount of collisions that occur during the mating season (rut) of the whitetail deer. The rut occurs in late October and early November, as evidenced by the carnage on the highways at that time of year.
But far and away, most of the deer-vehicle collisions are caused by deer feeding along the highways. Deer are basically browsers but are also prolific grazers. And along each major highway in PA, you will find a buffer area of lush grass - deer magnets!
Driving these roads in the evenings is dangerous because of the number of deer found feeding within feet of the speeding vehicles. And the low fences which are erected along some of these highways are no obstacle whatsoever to a whitetail deer. I've often wondered why bother with them.
What the writer doesn't realize - or won't admit - is that the deer hunter is the largest factor out there in reducing the number of deer and the resultant deer-vehicle collisions. I wonder what she feels the results would be if hunters didn't harvest the excess deer each year? With hundreds of thousands more deer out there, collisions would increase exponentially. It's not the hunter chasing Bambi onto the road that's the main problem: It's the banquet along the roadways that lures him out there for a free meal.