I had the opportunity this weekend to watch the Ottawa High School wrestling team compete at the Kansas 4A Regional Tournament at Tonganoxie High School, where we qualified two wrestlers for the state championship meet in Salina. Hunter Peoples took fourth in his weight class, and Dalton Weidl won his respective weight class. As much fun as it was to watch our students compete at a high level, my mind began to wander — during the nearly nine hours spectators spent in the bleachers Saturday — toward what it takes to make these tournaments work for our kids. Therefore, I think I should take this opportunity to give the parents of our student athletes credit where credit is due.

This weekend’s tournament started at 5 p.m. Friday, and students returned to the meet 11 a.m. Saturday with the last Ottawa wrestler leaving the mat at about 7:45 p.m. The matches themselves typically consist of three two-minute rounds in which the athletes have to wait more than an hour to wrestle again. What intrigues me the most is the number of parents who sat in that gym for nearly nine hours to watch their children wrestle one match. The pride and honor those parents have in not only their own children, but every wrestler on this team, is second to none.

What many of you don’t know about this group is that our wrestlers typically weigh in at about 4 a.m. on Saturdays. After the weigh-in, the parents cook breakfast for the team before they travel to their meet. Once there, parents continue to make Cyclone wrestlers’ time in the gym as comfortable as possible by bringing snacks, producing extravagant lunch spreads and cheering and supporting the team in incredible fashion. I have had the pleasure of watching several of our wrestling meets this year, and I am very proud of our wrestlers, however, I don’t believe this program would be what it is without the tremendous outpouring of support by their parents and backers.

While I was sitting in the bleachers totally in awe of this group, I also thought about other areas in which parents provide a support structure for our students in an effort to make their time at OHS as successful and memorable as possible. In nearly every sport we sponsor at OHS, there is a weekly team dinner provided by student athletes’ parents. At every away game, those same parents provide meals for the entire team to take on the road. The parents of our music students are so involved in their activities that they often act as sponsors and go along on trips. Before football games, the band room at school often has nearly as many parents in it as students. The debate and forensics teams at OHS put on tournaments at the high school every year, and without the help of parents as judges, hospitality room workers, etc., these tournaments would not be nearly as successful.

I am limited in my ability to recognize every parental group that helps our school work through this platform. Moreover, I have only spoken about our activities here. It has not escaped me that the most important support parents can provide for their students is from an academic perspective, and I do not want to understate my understanding and excitement about the academic support provided by our parents this year.

I want to recognize and thank all of our parents who help make OHS a better place for our students. I am extremely grateful for all your work. Finally, I want to wish Dalton and Hunter good luck this weekend at the state wrestling tournament.

Dr. Ryan Cobbs is principal at Ottawa High School. Email him at cobbsr@usd290.org or call (785) 229-8020.