The Herald Bulletin

May 19, 2013

Scott Underwood: Spring brings new athletic inspiration

By Scott Underwood
The Herald Bulletin

— Spring is a great time for sports in the Madison County area. In addition to high school softball, baseball, tennis, track and field, and golf, younger kids and older folks are out and about participating in sports.

According to the Physical Activity Council’s annual report for 2012, 217 million Americans participate in at least one sport. The vast majority of these play a sport outside of high school.

It makes a community feel more alive when people are out on a nice day walking, fishing or playing a game of catch. Though I’m the world’s worst golfer (I could make Charles Barkley look like Tiger Woods), I feel a pang of envy when I drive by a lush green golf course on a sun-drenched day and see duffers hacking away.

Inspiring stories from the sports world can stir us over-the-hill and never-were athletes to action, particularly when the stories originate close to home. This spring, two very different teams — the Indiana Pacers and the Anderson University softball squad — have provided that inspiration.

The AU women won five consecutive elimination games in the NCAA Div. III Regional in Angola (Indiana, not Africa) to reach the national championships. Talk about playing well under pressure!

At the Div. III Softball World Series in Eau Claire, Wis., AU ran into trouble, losing its first game 8-1 and then falling to the nation’s top-ranked team, Salisbury University (Md.), 2-0 on Saturday. The second loss ended the Ravens’ season.

While their results at nationals were disappointing, comments from AU players and coach Tony Holloway reflected a great appreciate for what they had accomplished — and a commitment to continued excellence.

Six hours after the Ravens were eliminated Saturday, the Indiana Pacers took the floor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indy to battle the New York Knicks in Game 6 of their best-of-seven National Basketball Association series. The Pacers led in games 3-2 and needed to win Saturday’s contest to finish the Knicks off and move on to the conference finals.

If you watched the last quarter of Saturday’s game, you saw a stark contrast in styles between the team-oriented Pacers and the one-man show of the Knicks. While Indiana passed the ball around unselfishly, New York relied on individual play.

Indiana made all the right plays at the end of the game to finish off the Knicks. Next up: LeBron James and the defending NBA champ Miami Heat. The Heat-Pacers series should be interesting — possibly another spring inspiration.

You don’t have to be a seven-foot athlete with a 40-inch vertical leap and a multi-million dollar contract to be moved to action by the Pacers’ success, just as you don’t have to be a softball whizz with a rifle arm to be inspired by the AU softball team.  

Whether you’re a recreational walker or a deeply devoted bodybuilder, or a Little League kid or a seniors tennis player, it’s the right time of year in Madison County to rise up from that sedentary lifestyle and get in the game.

Editor Scott Underwood’s column appears Mondays. Follow him on Twitter @THBEditor and like him on Facebook. Contact him at and 640-4845.