The Year of the Zebra

By: Jim Linsdau, Sports Editor
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Having followed Lincoln’s Fighting Zebras for more than a year now, it intrigues me how far the school’s athletic programs have come in such a short time.

My first year, it appeared the Zebras might be slightly out of their league. With Bear River, Colfax and Placer dominating the Pioneer Valley League it seemed Lincoln did well just staying ahead of Foothill and Center – but not so this year.

It’s true, the Fighting Zebras have won championships before but I cannot recall a time when a Lincoln athletic program was considered a dynasty. This even before I came to the News Messenger but I can’t help but feel that might be changing.

Before I moved to Lincoln, I recall people referring to this as a “small farming community” located on the outskirts of nowhere. The fashionable places to live were Rocklin, Granite Bay or Auburn – now, not so much – at least, not more so.

Perhaps it’s the funky economy that has brought things into perspective. The key is taking pride in where you are not where others think you ought to be.

In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve come to realize there’s plenty of pride in Lincoln. One discovers it’s about people, not the misconception of an area.

 With that said, I’ve seen Lincoln High’s football team go from 2-8 to one making the playoffs just a year later. The soccer programs (boys and girls) made runs in the Sac-Joaquin Section Playoffs and this year’s basketball teams have made dramatic turnarounds.

Last year, the boy’s cagers were 9-8 in preseason, this year 13-4. The girls have gone from 6-10 to 11-6. But what is most dramatic is the attitude change in the athletes – they’re beginning to believe in themselves.

This spring, we could see even more improvement. Both the baseball and softball teams could well make a run deep into the playoffs as each could return as many as 10 players from last year’s rosters.

Girls soccer went to the playoffs last year with 15 underclassmen potentially returning this season. And there has been marked improvement in both the golf and tennis programs.

Much of what supports this “Year of the Zebra” are the local community programs that have been producing some outstanding athletes. Lincoln’s Little League was voted “Best of the Best” for community sports and the Jr. Zebras have been setting the standard for youth football and cheer.

There are similar programs for softball and soccer and a new club being formed for girls volleyball.

All-in-all, things seem to be on the rise for the Fighting Zebras, in spite of a struggling economy. Perhaps it has something to do with “misery loves company” but I think it goes deeper. Maybe it’s taking pride in what you have and who you are rather than hoping for what you could be if you were somewhere else.

2013, to the superstitious, may not seem like a good year to get started but there’s no time like the present. It isn’t the time that is important; it’s what you do with the time you have.