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MONDAY, APRIL 2, 2007
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MARK EDWARDS

All-area players buck trend

If the high school students who made The Daily’s all-area basketball teams are any indication, all isn’t lost for the future.

We hear so often that the current generation of teenagers isn’t as dedicated, polite, respectful or (fill in your good quality of choice here) as the previous one. And previous one wasn’t as good as the one before that, which wasn’t as good as the one before that, etc.

But in picking our all-area teams, we found that we’re honoring good people as well as good basketball players.

We honor 60 players on our main squads, which includes 15 each for Class 4A-6A girls, 4A-6A boys, 1A-3A girls and 1A-3A boys.

Others who didn’t make the final cut are placed on honorable mention, but after we’ve selected those main squads, we get those 60 players to come to our offices for a picture, which is just a headshot.

I sat in the photo studio during each of the sessions as the players came and went, checking them off my master list.

This allowed me to meet everybody who made our all-area teams, and along the way, I discovered all our players had a common thread — they were kind, respectful and unfailingly polite. And when I say polite, I mean polite in a way that our parents always wished we were in their best dreams.

Each player answered every question with “Yes, sir,” or “No, sir.”

If they had to wait a few minutes for a photographer to get set up, they didn’t complain or act bothered by the delay.

Some had to drive (or be driven) from 45 minutes or an hour away, and if the process took less than a minute, they didn’t complain about that, either.

I kept waiting for somebody to say, “I came all this way just for that?” Nobody did, or even hinted it.

I don’t remember being that patient and polite when I was in high school.

Some brought family members to our studio, which was incredibly good fortune for us in one particular case. Tanner’s Hollye Keenum came with her sister, Haley Keenum, who recently signed a softball scholarship with Calhoun Community College. We needed Haley’s picture, too, but had failed to contact her coach or her family about setting it up.

Imagine her surprise when we sent her sister back to the lobby to let her know that we needed her, too. She handled it with grace.

The players seemed to enjoy interacting with each other. Imagine a scene during one particular session when players from Brewer, Hartselle and Priceville arrived in our studio at the same time.

Big rivals on the court, they seemed like best of friends off it.

The same happened with Speake, Hazlewood and R.A. Hubbard, a trio of Class 1A rivals, but the players acted like old friends.

We saw a similar scene with Athens, West Morgan and Falkville as the players teased each other as they had their photos made. Check the 1A-3A team that ran in this edition, and see if Falkville senior Heath Alford looks calm and collected in his photo. He endured major teasing but still achieved that look.

Mark Edwards Mark Edwards
DAILY Sports Editor

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