EDITORIAL: Area athletes offer uplifting stories of determination, inspiration, redemption
These days, we need to mine for uplifting stories wherever possible.
Goodness knows, we’re not going to find them in Washington or Harrisburg.
In so many ways, our political leaders have failed us.
Luckily for us in York County, some of our athletic figures have not.
Just in the past few weeks and months, a trio of area sports standouts have provided us with tales of national and international success that are equal parts determination, inspiration and redemption.
And none of the trio has yet reached the age of 25.
Summer Britcher: Let’s start with our own Olympian, Summer Britcher. The Susquehannock High School graduate has reached her second Winter Games in the luge.
What makes that achievement nearly unbelievable is the fact that the closest luge track to Britcher’s Glen Rock home is in Lake Placid, New York — a journey of approximately 450 miles.
That didn’t deter Britcher.
She became involved in the sport at age 11, when she spoke to a USA Luge representative at Ski Liberty near Fairfield. She quickly became intrigued with the sport, where an athlete slides down an icy track on a small sled at speeds that can reach more than 80 mph.
The determined young woman went to Lake Placid for a tryout, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Britcher made the U.S. luge team for the 2014 Olympics in Russia and finished a more-than-respectable 15th as a teenager. Now she’s in South Korea, and her sights are set much higher. The 23-year-old is hoping for a medal, and given her third-place finish in this year’s overall World Cup standings, that seems reasonable.
Antwoine Dorm Jr.: Next, let’s take a look at York’s Antwoine Dorm Jr.
The 13-year-old boxer is already a national champion after winning the 90-pound division recently in the Silver Gloves competition in Missouri. How owns a 38-9 career record and a No. 1 national ranking. Not surprisingly, he’s hoping to one day follow in Britcher’s footsteps and become an Olympian.
Despite barely being a teenager, Dorm is already an inspiring figure in the city, and not just because of his boxing exploits.
Out of the ring, Dorm has run 5-kilometer races to raise money for charity, is an ambassador for the city school district’s anti-bullying initiative and has hopes of one day of becoming a pastor in Las Vegas because, he says: “Vegas is where most people sin, so it’s needed the most.”
Seems perfectly reasonable.
Chance Marsteller: Finally, there’s the story of Chance Marsteller.
His tale is different from Britcher’s or Dorm’s. It’s more complicated. His journey has not followed a straight and narrow path, but he seems to have found his way to redemption.
At Kennard-Dale High School, Marsteller became a Pennsylvania wrestling legend, compiling a 166-0 career record and winning four state titles. He was considered the No. 1 wrestling recruit in the nation and there was much talk that he, too, would someday be an Olympian.
In college, however, things did not go nearly as well. He struggled on and off the mat at Oklahoma State before eventually being suspended from the team for unspecified reasons. He then transferred to Lock Haven.
Before ever wrestling a match for the Bald Eagles, Marsteller found serious trouble with the law, getting arrested for exposing himself in public and attacking police officers. He had a blood-alcohol content more than three times the legal limit and also had marijuana and cocaine in his system.
He eventually avoided prison and a felony conviction but was sentenced to seven years of probation, 350 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine.
He had hit rock bottom. His reputation was in tatters. That’s when Marsteller began the long, hard climb back. He went through substance-abuse rehabilitation and worked hard to get back on the Lock Haven team.
His second chance came this season, and he’s made the most of it, compiling a 36-1 record and a No. 4 national ranking at 165 pounds. Suddenly, his Olympic hopes again seem possible.
Of course, Marsteller’s story is far from over. He must continue to walk a straight line and not fall back into old, destructive habits.
Still, to this point, his comeback should be encouraging to anyone who has struggled with substance abuse, or has a loved one battling that affliction.
Hope for future: Britcher, Dorm and Marsteller have provided us with three uplifting stories at a time when we desperately need them.
The fact that none of them was alive just a quarter century ago gives us hope for the future.
Maybe it’s also a sign.
We don’t need to look to Washington or Harrisburg for tales that boost our spirits, because we’re not going to find them there.
We just need to look in our own backyards.