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Appreciating life’s gifts and local sports this Thanksgiving

The Bellefonte Area High School baseball team celebrates winning the PIAA Class AAA state championship in June at Medlar Field.
The Bellefonte Area High School baseball team celebrates winning the PIAA Class AAA state championship in June at Medlar Field. Centre Daily Times, file

Thanksgiving to some may be about piling up the turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie, but it is also about appreciating everything that makes life special.

While there may still be more than a month left in 2016, there is little doubt this has already been one of the stranger, wilder, more memorable years athletically, politically and journalistically.

As I ponder a day surrounded by family while cooking in the kitchen, I thought I might list off a few things small and large for which I am thankful.

I am thankful I live in a place like central Pennsylvania, with its variety and high quality of sports.

We have high school teams that win or contend for state championships. We have local athletes who are good enough to compete at all levels of college athletics, and some who even make it to the pros. From baseball to football, volleyball to track and cross country, soccer to swimming, this place has some seriously talented kids.

And on the Penn State campus, it seems we’re never at a loss for a team chasing a trophy.

I am thankful pro baseball was brought to State College 11 years ago, and this summer I got to have so many fascinating conversations about baseball, and a lot more, with State College Spikes manager Johnny Rodriguez. Each time I walked through the door to his office after games, I wondered where the talks would end up. There were times I walked out of that office a little befuddled, but rarely was I not smiling a little and glad this was part of my job.

And getting to see the team win another New York-Penn League championship wasn’t too bad either.

I am thankful Happy Valley has been given Hockey Valley. If you have yet to get to a men’s hockey game at Pegula Ice Arena, even if you don’t know much about the sport, give it a try. It is so very worth the trip. I have been to a number of college rinks, and the atmosphere and home-ice advantage Penn State enjoys rivals the best the nation has to offer. And the quality of athletes, and the excitement of the style of play, also makes it a very worthy adventure.

I am thankful we get the chance to see so many pass through here on their way to the biggest of stages. Whether they went to school here or just came to compete, I saw more than two dozen competitors long before they made it to last summer’s Rio Olympics.

And I am thankful this area loves sports so much, is so passionate for everything, from Little League to County League, from the fastest on the track to the strongest on the wrestling mats.

Most of all, I am thankful for every smile I see, and every giggle I hear, from the two little ones at home, especially when they get each other laughing.

They make Thanksgiving, and every day, special.

Gordon Brunskill: 814-231-4608, @GordonCDT

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