GUEST VIEWPOINT: It takes village to raise Clarkston kids

“Clarkston is a special place. I’ll leave it at that.”
This is what my coach said after being asked about the recent success of the basketball and football teams after we won the football state championship this year. I find this answer so simple yet so complex at the same time because it embodies everything that is Clarkston.
As residents of Clarkston, we sometimes take for granted what we have in this tiny village of ours.
We become blind to the fact that we are a premier school in all of Michigan in every aspect.
Our sports teams are unmatched around the state. To hoist up that wooden mitten and be able to say “We are the best” is a luxury that only a small percentage will ever experience.
Yet, in the town of Clarkston, this experience is beginning to feel routine as we continue to dominate the rest of the state consistently in many sports.
Outsiders look to Clarkston and ask, “How is this possible?” How can one school be so prolific year after year in so many sports?
Like my coach said, we live in a special place. It’s not this way because of the playoffs, the championships, or even the honors. It’s because of the people. Clarkston is a public school that is not school of choice, which means only kids who live in the district can attend Clarkston High School.
Some may look at this as a disadvantage because not just anyone can attend the school. However, I believe this is a factor that contributes to our success; kids playing for their hometown have a purpose.
The kids are the first piece of the puzzle to this unique community. They are all hardworking, dedicated, homegrown athletes putting everything they have on the line for their community. I have known a majority of my teammates since we started playing football in third grade.
This experience is unanimous throughout the school with each sport. Many athletes have been on the same team from when they were in grade school to when they are seniors. It’s a mix between talented athletes, a desire to compete, and a bond so close they aren’t just teammates, they are family.
Although, the kids are just a small part and just one attribute of Clarkston’s success. Every sport is unified by amazing coaches who are the next piece. They put in the time to not only make kids better athletes but better people. Commonly, it’s leading by example.
A fond memory of mine was going to the famous Fife Basketball Camp when I was in grade school and watching Coach Fife as he made an effort to remember each and every one of the campers names.
Doing this he created a sense of importance in all of us and motivated us to excel in whatever it was that we loved, even if it wasn’t basketball. It also inspired us to care for each other, because of the fact that Clarkston is one big family and we need to be there for one another.
I think Clarkston is honored to have coaches like these because most schools aren’t lucky enough to experience this.
Above all else, it is the entire community that is the key to all of Clarkston’s success. The Clarkston fanbase for every sport is something to be treasured.
Whether it’s home or away, Clarkston athletes know they have someone to play for in the stands. Having people cheering for your team really makes a difference. I think I speak for all athletes when I say that looking into the stands and seeing all the fans is heartwarming and motivational.
I will never forget running out of the tunnel at Ford Field and seeing the thousands of Clarkston fans in attendance. Students, teachers, family, alumni, all brought together as one. It really is special to see an entire community come together for the school and its students. It’s also nice knowing that playing for the name on your chest means more than just your school is a feeling unlike any other.
So when I am asked, “Why is Clarkston different? What makes them so special?” I say it’s kids that are all hardworking, dedicated, homegrown athletes all putting everything they have on the line for their community.
I say it’s the coaches caring about the development of the person more than just their performance(s) in a game. I say it’s this community for always being there and supporting the wolves no matter what. I say it’s because all these pieces, together in one place, makes us unified and no amount of talent can beat that.
Michael Fluegel is a senior at Clarkston High School, responding to a prompt from his AP Literature class

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