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  • Last modified 1424 days ago (Oct. 29, 2014)

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A shirt of a different color

I have always been an average-looking bloke, not one to turn heads unless I say, do, or wear something folks consider curious or outlandish.

A notable example is the head turning as I’m zooming around in my SUV — some folks know me solely as the “ladder guy” for the admittedly odd rigging of a 10-foot extension ladder on the back.

Friday brought with it a new head-turner. I bought a new shirt that fits well, looks good. It’s maroon-colored, with gold and white accents, and the part that’s straining people’s necks is the logo — Hillsboro Trojans.

Yes, Mr. Marion High School Class of 1976, so darned proud of it and of today’s USD 408, was sporting Hillsboro High colors this weekend.

I’m the news editor for both the Marion County Record and the Hillsboro Star-Journal. This fall I’ve been covering Trojans football and volleyball, leaving Warriors coverage in the capable hands of Eliot Sill. As an avid high school sports fan, I’ve gone through the same highs and lows with the Trojans that I have over the years with the Warriors.

Buying the shirt and putting it on before Friday’s football game at Hillsboro was a supportive nod to a team I’ve been cheering on this fall, and the act generated head turns. Many surprised looks, followed by smiles, and comments, such as “The maroon and gold looks good on you.” I thought so, too.

I put it on again Saturday, as there was cross country and volleyball to cover. Before leaving Marion, I stopped at Carlson’s and Casey’s, and again I turned some heads. This time the looks were quizzical, not smiling, the comments incredulous, not encouraging.

Most folks grudgingly accepted my explanation, but one person was certain that “Mr. Thierolf would kill you if he saw you wearing that.” As the Marion football coach and I are fellow Jayhawks, I didn’t fear for my life, but I suspect Grant would have had a word or two to pass along.

It felt extremely odd when I first put that shirt on and looked in the mirror. The fit was good physically, but awkward mentally. The awkward feeling eventually disappeared, and I found it wasn’t hard at all to be a proud Marion Warrior cheering for Hillsboro. If the two schools had met in the sub-state volleyball final Saturday, I’d have had a winner either way.

The economic and population challenges our county faces would benefit from a similar perspective. It feels odd to root for another town when we want our own towns to be winners, particularly when rivalries are involved, but the county benefits when any of our towns, large or small, scores some sort of victory.

Some folks get it, others are slowly but surely coming around, and still others cling to attitudes that, to move forward, must be left behind. It’s entirely possible to have pride in and advance one’s own hometown while rooting for others to succeed, too.

It’s not only possible, it’s necessary. If we’re not pulling for each other, a few years down the road there might not be much left for the county to cheer about. It’s time to try on some different colors, and you may find they fit better than you ever thought they could.

-- david colburn

Last modified Oct. 29, 2014

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