Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wednesday, March 09, 2005 - Welcome to "For the Record"

As historian for the Michigan High School Athletic Association, one of my tasks is to update the state record books for all sports sponsored by the MHSAA. With some sports, this involves numerous categories; for others, only a few.

In the "perfect" world (as it relates to high school sports history in Michigan) all noteworthy achievements dating back to the dawn of time (or more precisely, starting around the early 1890's) in the Great Lakes state would have been captured for posterity.

Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

Rather, the records books are a work in progress. New accomplishments are added on a regular basis. Upon occasion, statistics are stumbled upon from years past and added to the site.

And sometimes errors are made.

Just the other day, I received an e-mail, pointing out a mistake. It was a problem with a listing in the girls basketball records for career three-point scorers. 158 - Heather Seyfred, Bridgman (73 of 460) (2002-04). I had keyed it in just a few days earlier.

Instantly, I was thrown back to the moment…A tap on the shoulder, accompanied by a little voice who wondered if I could please offer some help in the kitchen.

The most important task I have to accomplish in life is that of parenting. I’m a single Dad with full custody of his sons. Sometimes they need assistance: with homework; with growing up; with suggestions on what to draw. There are other requests. On this day, the need was for assistance with the production of a piece of Peanut Butter Toast. A slice of after-school heaven for an eight-year-old on a cold winter day in Michigan. (And occasionally, a pleasant diversion for a guy my age!)

Now, the statement, “I had keyed it in just a few days earlier” from a couple of paragraphs ago is not entirely correct. The line I had actually keyed in was Heather’s mark of 73 single season treys. Thanks to the miracles of modern point-and click technology, I then copied and pasted that same information into the career area. I then altered the total at the start of the line, changed the year to indicate the span of her prep career, and her total attempts from 210 to 460.

Then came Evan’s tap. And my train of thought was changed. Just like that, an error was made in the state record book. Of course this one was minor and easily corrected. The addition had been submitted by her coach, and was discovered when he checked the site to see if it had been posted. The record was there, but it was not completely accurate. Thanks to the e-mail, the correction was made.

It is a great privilege to record the accomplishments of Michigan’s high school athletes, and an honor to carry on the work of my friend, the late Dick Kishpaugh. A graduate of Battle Creek Central, Western Michigan University, and a longtime resident of Parchment, Dick proudly wore the title of state historian for 50 years. I have handled the honorary duties for 11 seasons now. Thanks to the arrival of the Internet, the record books in their expanded form are now available to the public for inspection.

But maintaining the Record Books is a hobby. It is not my livelihood. And this is not ESPN, where the feats of athletes are updated as they happen, with a scrolling message of details playing out at the bottom of the screen.

Instead, entries to the books appear on the site as they are submitted or discovered, and have been validated by school officials and/or newspaper accounts. Sometimes, they are amazing numbers that baffle logic and boggle the mind. Other times, they are achieved in a less-than-sportsmanship like manner. The purpose is to simply record that they occurred.

The intent of this blog is, I hope, to offer some perspective on what has been achieved in the past, is about to be attained, or was recently accomplished by a team or an athlete. I hope to point out links to interesting articles that I have stumbled upon, items of historical note, and generally discuss high school athletics in the state of Michigan. Along the way, you may learn a little bit more about what I consider to be the last athletic purity in America. Ideally, so will I.

To me, one of the great joys of this hobby comes in the form of the people that I get to meet and converse with about this pageantry and purity. Upon occasion, they are very recognizable names. In general, however, they are usually common men and women, boys and girls achieving uncommon things. The great majority of the time, they are good people with their hearts in the right place and their priorities straight, providing tips, insight and corrections.

Ideally, that will never change.

My name is Ron Pesch. It is very nice to meet you…

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