Are we On? (Dave Vilhauer blog)

They are the unsung heroes of sports. The people who work quietly behind the scenes to that others can shine on center stage.

I was reminded of the fact this past week that many individuals volunteer their time to make the quality of life better for others.

A prime example was spotted on Wednesday night. The Aberdeen Roncalli squad was trying to get tennis courts prepared for an upcoming tournament. Due to the large amount of snow, it was no easy task. The players and coaches worked feverishly throughout the afternoon and then left around 7 p.m. As I drove past the courts that evening to see how they looked, I spotted an individual out on the courts with a leaf blower, trying to dry off the courts.

Now, keep in mind that this person does not have a son on the squad. He simply saw a need and decided to help out. It’s people like that who help to make a community better.

I know there are many other people, some who get paid, many others who do not, who help out when a need arises. I’ve recently heard of people trying to remove snow from track and field complexes so athletes get a chance to perform at meets.

Sometimes, the need exceeds that of simply a chance to compete. Such was the case in Aberdeen on Friday as volunteers were requested to help fill sandbags as local residents combat rising flood waters. It is no surprise that many answered the call, including student athletes from Northern State and Presentation College. That’s what makes this city a great place to live.

Of course, there are times when individuals are hired to do a job so that others can perform. They can be anyone from a Zamboni driver at a hockey rink to a member of a grounds crew at a baseball park.

If you happen to watch this weekend’s Final Four in Minneapolis you might not even recognize US Bank Stadium. That’s because it has been transformed into a basketball venue. Part of that process included putting up gigantic curtains over a major portion of glass ceiling to block out the direct sunlight. That task took nearly a week to complete at a cost of $4.6 million. It was done to provide the best possible experience for the players and fans at this weekend’s last few games of the NCAA Division I National Basketball Tournament.

It might be true that some consider heroes to be the ones who make the best plays when the spotlight shines the brightest, but it’s definitely a fact that the real heroes are the ones who do what it takes to allow that experience to happen in the first place.

Whether working on a national stage like the one in Minneapolis or a small one like the tennis courts in Aberdeen, and certainly those who volunteered to fill sandbags to help their neighbors in need, one thing is true: the individuals who don’t seek the fame or credit are often the ones who deserve it the most.