Good or great? The difference is slim, but big

Published 10:25 am Thursday, April 30, 2015

All season long, Warren Central baseball coach Conner Douglas has posed a single question to his team during their postgame meetings in right field.

“Do you want to be good? Or do you want to be great?”

It seems like a silly question, on one level. Don’t they mean the same thing?

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Not when it comes to sports, they don’t.

Good teams make the playoffs. Great teams win when they get there.

Good players put up stats. Great players do that, and lead their teams to championships.

It’s a small magnitude of difference, but when it comes to casting legacies and making memories it means everything. There’s nothing wrong with being a good player. Most who play any sport are not. Even starting for a varsity high school team — let alone a college or pro team — is a big accomplishment.

Doing more than just being there, however, requires a level of commitment and dedication not a lot of people can muster. Hours upon hours of practice. Weekends and summers sacrificed for the sake of the craft. Plenty of questions about whether it’s all worth it.

This week and next, the difference between good and great in high school sports will be on display.

Douglas’ Vikings can get past the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2005 by beating Grenada tonight. They’re still a long way from a state championship, but winning this series will turn a good season into a great one.

The St. Aloysius softball team has already advanced to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Another series win this weekend against Nanih Waiya puts them in the Class 1A semifinals and, like the WC baseball team, makes the season great.

Next week, Warren Central’s Karley Whittington, as well as St. Al’s boys and girls’ golf teams, will try to defend their state championships. Track and field athletes from St. Al, Warren Central and Vicksburg will pursue gold medals at the state meet in Pearl.

All of them are already very, very good. Now it’s time to find that extra gear, that extra something within, and elevate their skills and legacies to an even higher level.

In other words, it’s time to be great.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer. He can be reached at 601-619-7120, or by email at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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