Devastating loss brings out true sportsmanship

Sportsbeat — guest writer Angie Asam


Sportsmanship: fair play, respect for opponents and polite behavior by someone who is competing in a sport of other competition. Class: the best of its kind. Character: the way someone thinks, feels and behaves, someone’s personality. A set of qualities that make a place or thing different from other places or things.

All the above definitions come from Webster’s Dictionary. Rogers City had an example for all of those words and more Friday at the Palace of Auburn Hills in senior wrestler Jacob Sobeck.

After losing a tough fought 4-2 battle in the state quarterfinals at 145 pounds to Trevor Copes of New Lothrop, Sobeck wasn’t thinking about himself, or the fact that his dream of being a state champion was shattered, he was concerned for his opponent.

“Coming off that match, obviously Jake was disappointed. He has been pointing to the finals match all year, since the Marquette Challenge and actually beyond that, since he finished last year. He has been pointed to making the finals at the Palace,” said varsity wrestling head coach Pat Lamb.

Copes started cramping up after shaking hands with Sobeck when time expired. What transpired next was Sobeck’s display of class, sportsmanship and character.

“My heart just sank as I saw the concern in Jake’s eyes as he turned around to help his opponent off the mat,” uttered an emotional coach Lamb who was on the verge of tears discussing the sportsmanship of his senior captain.

“I could see the concern in Jake’s eyes right off the get go. He didn’t run over and shake the other coaches hand (as

A FLOOD of emotions is felt any time a wrestler ends his career. After senior Jacob Sobeck’s performance both wrestling as well as through an act of extreme character and good sportsmanship he embraced head coach Pat Lamb when his career was over with a smile and tears. (Photo by Angie Asam)

he would traditionally do), what he did was turn around to help the young man off the mat. He ended up putting Copes’ arm over his shoulder and carrying him over to the corner,” said coach Lamb. Lamb had seen the distress in Copes’ eyes and was making his way to the center of the mat to shake his hand.

“I got so many comments from other coaches, parents, etc, as did Jake. He made a comment to me while we were discussing an upcoming match. He told me that he felt like he had won the state championship because so many people were coming up and congratulating him,” said coach Lamb.

“It shows a lot of what we try to teach in our athletics, its not just about winning the game but its our sportsmanship and how we carry ourselves win or lose,” said principal/athletic director David O’Bryant.

Sobeck didn’t win a wrestling state title, but he did earn a lot of respect by showing genuine sportsmanship at a time when it mattered most.

“I just feel that if Webster’s Dictionary was a  picture book, you could look up the word class, the word character and the word sportsmanship and you’d see pictures of Jake Sobeck among those definitions,” said coach Lamb.

“That is just a compliment to Jake’s family, to his upbringing, to his community and to his school. Fortunately for us here in Rogers City and the community we live in, Jake is an example of that, however, he isn’t the only one in our school amongst all of our sports, both genders, that possess those attributes. That is a tribute to our community and the upbringing the parents and school system give these young people.

“Like I always say, it’s a great day to be a Huron, especially when something of that nature takes place. You can take a lot of pride in that and realize that there is many reasons why we coach, but that is definitely one of them,” said coach Lamb.

The match was a battle. “Copes got a reversal and put in what we call a nearside headlock with a leg lace. That move is designed as a ride move. Personally as his coach, naturally, I am going to defend it and say that I don’t like the move, it is designed in my mind to choke you out a bit and also to stall. I thought that the match should have been stopped for stalling because it was obvious the young man wasn’t trying to turn him. However, I am not going to make any excuses, I have to say that Copes wrestled his match and wore Jake down and he couldn’t come back from it,” said coach Lamb.

It was a tough match. Sobeck’s dream of making the state finals was shattered. But his character, class and sportsmanship was not, it was at its peak.

Coach Lamb has been around the wrestling program a long time, he has also served as the athletic director at Rogers City High School. He has been to many sporting events.

When asked if he had ever seen anything like that before he said this. “Never. Not in a quarterfinal/semifinal or blood round match. You just don’t see that happening because a young man’s hopes and dreams are dashed at that point. Sometimes not only for their season but for their career. Normally the focus is on yourself and how you feel after a devastating loss as opposed to what your opponent is feeling and how he is feeling.”

“It’s a tribute to Jake’s family, what has been instilled in him by his church and his community, that things of that nature take place. Thankfully for us Jake is just an example, he is not the only one in our community and school system that would act like that under those circumstances,” proudly stated coach Lamb.