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Some Thoughts On Steiner's Misfortune

October 7, 2010 - Al Stephenson
Every high school athlete dreams of going to state. Most don't come close to fulfilling that dream, but Tiffin Calvert's Heather Steiner came as close as you can without realizing that grandest of dreams. Steiner shot a round of 80 at the district golf tournament at Sycamore Springs. Her score tied for the third best score amongst golfers whose team did not advance, and the top 3 individuals get to go to Columbus. The procedure for breaking the tie was a playoff. Steiner got up and down for par on the first playoff hole and when her opponent bogeyed the hole, the dream appeared to become reality.

That's where things got a little crazy. Steiner's coach had left the course before the sudden death playoff to attend a boys team practice. Wayne Trace coach Al Welch protested the result of the playoff because the rules state a school official must be present throughout the entire event. The decision was turned over to the OHSAA and the ruling was not what local sports fans wanted to hear. Steiner was denied the trip to state and Kacee Hockenberry from Wayne Trace will be going instead. I have a number of thoughts on the matter and would like to share them.

First and foremost, I feel very bad for Heather Steiner. She deserves to be going to Columbus. She earned that right and its not fair that she is not going. On the other hand, she can take a valuable lesson from this experience. Life is not always fair. It was an honest mistake that cost her the shot at a state berth. She will always know that her efforts were good enough and she should be very proud of that fact.

Secondly I feel sorry for Calvert coach Ryan Bloomfield. He was not aware that his leaving the course would jeopardize her chances or he would never have done that. He has to feel worse than anyone. Hopefully he has taken no abuse for his miscalculation.

Here's one of the first things that came to my mind. Would I have filed a protest had I been the Wayne Trace coach? I don't think I so. In my early years of coaching, I would have for sure. As a friend of mine suggested - he was just looking out for his own athlete. True, but as I have grown older, my early "win at any cost" coaching mentality has waned. Now I'm more like a "what is the right thing to do" kind of guy. The WT coach knows his golfer did not "earn" the berth and this would have been a good time to defer to the real qualifier despite the rules infraction. He could have used the moment to give his own golfer a life lesson.

I also cannot fault the OHSAA for their decision. The rule seems pretty obvious. However, what would have happened had the coach been called away on an emergency? Would an exception to the rule been made then? What if he had become ill or injured and been forced to leave the course? Are there legitimate exceptions to every rule? Just food for thought.

The view from my seat suggests that this unfortunate incident will become less painful as time goes on. Perhaps Heather Steiner has already moved on. If that is the case she deserves a great deal of credit because this had to hurt.

Last but not least, let me congratulate Heather Steiner on a great golf season. Keep playing this wonderful game, Heather. It looks to me like you will have many great golf moments in your future.


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