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Osseo-Fairchild coach Tim Popple coached his Thunder to this year’s WIAA Division 4 boys state basketball tournament.

Leaders demonstrate they can lead during times of adversity. They set an example for those around them by keeping perspective during trying, emotional times.

And their words can make all the difference.

Hopefully Leader-Telegram readers didn't stop reading before the end of sports reporter Spencer Flaten's story on Osseo-Fairchild's state boys basketball game in the March 15 newspaper. The Thunder lost 70-68 to Oshkosh Lourdes in Madison after making a dramatic comeback from 17 points behind to nearly win the game.

The final paragraph of Flaten's story showed why Thunder coach Tim Popple is the kind of person you want coaching your child. A last-second loss at state is a real gut punch, but Popple showed remarkable perspective just moments after the loss.

"Sure, you're going to remember this day for the rest of his life," Popple said. "You don't live in the past, though.

"These kids' future is ahead of them. These seniors can do whatever they want, be whatever they want. And that's the message. Look back and enjoy the good times you had with all those friends, all of those games ... And then you just look to the future."

I smiled when I read those words. I'd heard similar ones in a similar situation.

I thought back to a different coach at a different school after a seemingly-devastating loss 20 years ago. Then-Altoona boys basketball coach Bill Perry had a powerhouse team that included All-Northwest Player of the Year Justin Redetzke, but the Rails lost in overtime to Park Falls in the sectional finals in March 1999. I had taken my 8-year-old son to the game and when we got home, we watched an interview with Perry on the local TV sports highlights. When asked about how difficult such a loss is for his young players, Perry responded, "If this is the worst thing that happens to them in their lives, they're going to have wonderful lives."

All coaches need to have the attitudes shown by Popple and Perry. A little bit of perspective goes a long way.

— Gary Johnson, editor