Marc Narducci: Standing strong when feeling down

Camden point guard Tavaris Headen drives past Delsea's Kyle McCulley. The Panthers won, 52-49, and had a remarkable season, but were beaten by Neptune in the state Group 3 semifinals. Speaking after the loss, Headen was polite and eloquent about his disappointment.
Camden point guard Tavaris Headen drives past Delsea's Kyle McCulley. The Panthers won, 52-49, and had a remarkable season, but were beaten by Neptune in the state Group 3 semifinals. Speaking after the loss, Headen was polite and eloquent about his disappointment. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff Photographer)

Speaking up after a big defeat teaches lessons in life.

Posted: March 11, 2012

During the recent NJSIAA basketball and wrestling tournaments, many of the athletes' performances spoke volumes. Yet some student-athletes didn't do actual speaking after difficult losses, which at least in this quarter is reason for some concern.

One of the most difficult things after losing an event that means so much, especially one that could signal the end of a high school career, is standing up and discussing the details.

That doesn't mean it should be ignored.

This is not to point fingers at anybody who specifically declined to be interviewed. Or to question the character of somebody who opts to give the silent treatment.

We must remember these are youngsters, not professionals. But again, high school sports teaches youths lessons.

And having a youth speak to the media only when things are going well doesn't teach the best lesson. A person should be accountable, regardless of the situation, no matter how difficult it might be.

Again, we can hear the critics out there, wondering why the self-serving media are complaining about not getting a youth's quote in a story.

That is missing the point.

The stories are published regardless, whether people talk to us or not. It's better to have the insight of those who competed, but athletes on all levels have stiffed reporters, and somehow, the stories manage to run and get read.

That's why during the current postseason there has been such high regard for those youths who did speak about a crushing defeat when they would have rather just walked straight to the bus.

One example is Camden sophomore point guard Tavaris Headen, who, like the rest of his teammates, was crushed to see his season end with Wednesday's 63-46 loss to Neptune in the state Group 3 semifinals.

This was a Camden team that overachieved by winning a South Jersey championship, but Headen and his teammates weren't in a mood to be consoled.

Still, when he left the locker room, head down, he agreed to talk to two reporters and then poured his heart out, telling how much the loss hurt and how much he wants to get back to that same place next year with a different result.

Headen spoke both politely and eloquently. What he was doing was representing his teammates, his high school, and his community in an exemplary manner.

At first it was hard for him to talk, but as he warmed up, Headen proved to be as adept with a quote as he was with the ball.

And on the same day, it was inspiring reading the story by colleague Chris Melchiorre of Washington Township's girls' basketball team, after a 47-37 loss to Jackson in the state Group 4 semifinals that ended another terrific season.

The Minutemaids won their second straight sectional title, only to see their season end for the second straight year in a state semifinal.

Again, it was a sophomore, Kelly Giedemann, who stood tall when putting everything in perspective.

"We wanted to win this game really badly," she said. "But we can look back and see everything that we accomplished this season and know it wasn't a disappointment."

Could a writer have put it any better?

So in summation, it's not as if people who talk to the media are good and those that aren't, well, are not.

No, it's just misguided to clam up when things didn't work out so well.

If need be, coaches should make the athletes see the importance of accepting the accolades and also summoning up the strength to face the music, even when the notes are off-key.


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com, 856-779-3225 or on Twitter @sjnard. Find his Rally columns

at www.philly.com/narducci

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