Worth the wait: Bears cap championship season with ring ceremony

First Posted: 3/13/2009

With smiles abound and heads held high, the Mount Airy Granite Bears 2008 state champion football team received its 1-A championship rings Friday in front of friends, family, dignitaries and supporters.
Fifth District Congressional Rep. Virginia Foxx was on hand along with many others to praise the team, school and community which helped propel this seasons Granite Bears into the record books.
As each team member was announced, the sometimes stoic faces of the young men lit up with pride and pleasure, finally having something physical to help hold onto the memories of a memorable season.
There was a tremendous sense of accomplishment on that day, but now it is physical, it is tangible, its finalized, senior captain Aaron Culler said. Ive got that memory in my mind and no one will ever take that away, but now I wont ever forget it because I have something physical to look at, and touch and feel it on my hand to remember it by. Ill probably wear it on special occasions, but its not an everyday thing. Its like a nice car you drive on Sunday afternoons when the weather is pretty outside.
As coach Kelly Holder stood shaking hands and talking with friends and family following the ceremony, a smile, which to those who know him as a coach know is not an ever-present thing, began to slowly creep and spread over his face.
Holder said after having time to reflect on the season, he understands the ring ceremony and the championship run are testaments not only to his team and coaching staff, but to a community that offers a tremendous amount of support.
There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that you obviously couldnt have done it without your players, but really, something like this, if you do it once or you do it consistently, its really a community thing, Holder said. Youve seen that today, from the Little League coaches to the middle school coaches, to the parents, to the youth foundation, there have been numerous, numerous people that are really involved in this. Its really a culmination of all those things. This is the first one I have ever received. I dont know how often Ill wear it or if Ill put it up, but I know I am wearing it today. I am wearing it all day today.
Holder wasnt the only Bear to say he was happy to sport the ring at last.
Im going to wear it, senior quarterback Aaron Wheeler exclaimed. Im going to wear it every day. This thing probably wont come off my hand unless I am in the shower. This is the first time Ive seen it. Weve all waited nine to 15 years to get these and we have finally done it and it feels good.
Its been a long time coming, senior runningback Michael Dobson said. It feels great. I just cant stop smiling, at a loss for words. Im probably going to put it up so I dont lose it.
Mount Airy City Schools Assistant Superintendent Bryan Taylor said he knows Fridays ceremony is something the school, the kids and the community will remember for years to come.
Days like this dont come along very often when you get to celebrate state championships with a group of kids and a school and a community, Taylor said. I cant say enough about how proud we are of these young men and the coaching staff and Mrs. George and her staff to support these kids. We hate to see it end to be honest with you, but it is a day of culmination of a lot of work, a lot long hours and a lot of effort and sacrifice.
Foxx, who presented Holder and the school with a plaque commemorating her reading into the congressional record of the Granite Bears accomplishments, said the success of the Bears in 2008 comes from focused efforts across the board.
We know that a successful high school comes from two components; a good principal and parental involvement, Foxx said. That is the same thing for sports teams; youve got to have good leadership and good parental involvement and what this shows is that. Almost all these players are on the honor roll, so they are all bright guys, and that is an indication it takes the community support, intelligent kids and determination to have a winning team and that is what Mount Airy High School has always had.
As the ceremony concluded, Mount Airy High School Principal Sandy George put things in perspective for those who gathered.
Im going to say the same thing I said on Dec. 13 after the team won the state title: What a great day to be a Granite Bear.

Contact Thomas Smith at [email protected] or 719-1920.

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