Guess which team won the third place game? You'd never know by looking at this picture.
Special little moments fly under the radar all the time in youth sports. Other times they’re briefly applauded then quickly forgotten about.
But what coaches and fans witnessed at a recent girls’ 12U A hockey tournament in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota will probably be talked about for awhile.
As reported by Detroit Lakes Online, it all started the Friday of the weekend-long hockey tournament. That’s when the seventh-graders of the Detroit Lakes team began chatting up the team from Sauk Rapids-Sartell, which was waiting to go on the ice.
“They were just really nice,” recalls Detroit Lakes player Livia Brehm, “so we started cheering for them.”
At the next morning’s game, Sauk Rapids-Sartell fans were befuddled to find their cheering section had significantly expanded. Not only were the new arrivals all dressed in Detroit Lakes jerseys, but they were more vocal, enthusiastic, and supportive than anybody else in the arena.
The same group then showed up at the Sauk Rapids-Sartell game later that night, again cheering their hearts out for a group of girls they had just met. And even with the Sabres losing soundly, parents and players couldn’t help but smile.
“It was the most positive amount of energy I have seen at a youth sporting event,” Sauk Rapids-Sartell parent Brent Pakkala told Detroit Lakes Online.
Apparently, the positivity was infectious. Despite just losing their game, the Sauk Rapids-Sartell girls decided to brush aside the dejection of defeat and return the favor. Their newest fan club was taking the ice right after them, and it only seemed right that they stick around to show Detroit Lakes some love, too.
Once again, parents and coaches witnessed the rare display with equal parts pride and bemusement.
“Normally teens seem to hate each other, but this was just awesome,” said Detroit Lakes parent Dawn Brehm.
The two teams continued to build friendships throughout the weekend, hanging out between games and exchanging contact info.
And when the third place game came around that Sunday, who do you think was scheduled to play against each other?
Would the new friendships crack under the pressure of competition?
Not even close.
In fact, the game started with high fives and ended with both teams posing with the third place trophy, looking like they both won it (Detroit Lakes actually did).
The whole experience was best summed up by Callie Pakkala of Sauk Rapids-Sartell.
“I think that if people learned about the power of good sportsmanship, sports would be a lot more fun. They can be competitive, but it’s a not all about that - it’s about meeting new people and making good friends, too.”
Stick tap to Sauk Rapids-Sartell and Detroit Lakes Hockey for showing us all the true value of youth sports!