One of the viral images popping up on social media for the Pierce County Bears

As a teenager, I lived in Pierce County. That means that I went to the single high school in the county, which I didn’t think was unusual until I moved 5 hours away from home for college. Who knew a county could have more than one high school?! During my freshman year of high school, our team got very close to going to the football State Championship playoffs. It was incredibly exciting!

The agricultural area was energized seasonally… not with crops, but with sports. The town is buzzing with energy, this time over baseball. This afternoon, Pierce County plays a tie-breaker game against Lovett to see who will advance to play against Appling County, neighboring Pierce County, for the state AA playoffs. I have an enormous sense of pride knowing what I do about this town. It’s so small. Truly. And rural. They can’t afford the same training equipment or coaches that more populous parts of our state do, but they have created a solid team of athletes in the face of a truly devastating year. The Pierce County Bears lost two of their teammates in a car accident this year. Holt Rowland and Layne Dixon were important to the framework and family of the team and their loss has been felt deeply by the entire community.

Sports have a way of uniting communities. They give our students goals and instill discipline. They boost the local economy with team logo and snack revenue alone! And sports give each community a commonality to cheer on. I’ve been watching the scene unfold online in news articles, blogs, and, of course Facebook. Many of my friends and family still live in the area and every day the posts cheering on the home team and honoring their missing teammates seems to increase. In the small, rural town, there is a lot to cheer for today. Whatever the outcome of today’s game, I’m cheering with them.

By way of update, the Bears won this game and are on to the next toward the State AA Championship!