The bleachers were packed as fans from the opposing Buchanan High and Clovis High softball teams prepared to cheer on their teams to a Division I Valley Championship. Tensions were high between the long-time rivals, and it promised to be a hard-fought battle once the first pitch was thrown. As the two teams stepped onto the field, the PA system crackled with an announcement from the California Interscholastic Federation that there would be no National Anthem played before the Cougars and Bears competed since the anthem had already been aired before an earlier Division III play-off game.
No National Anthem before a ball game? Confused looks were exchanged around the stands, as the red-draped Buchanan student section grew quiet, and the student section all in blue did the same. “Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…” Suddenly the sound of youthful voices rose from both student sections. Quickly joined by adults and players on the field, the National Anthem was sung in heartfelt unity, CIF plans aside.
The final note drifted away on the warm evening air as the cry of “Play ball!” rang out and the game was back on, leaving in its wake an important lesson for leaders to learn from students. Competition and intense rivalry have their time and place, but a leader should never lose sight of common bonds. A Clovis Unified leader rides for the good of the team for which we all play.