Touching touchdown showcases sportsmanship at its finest

By: Mary Rinzel with Photographer Duane Wolter Email
By: Mary Rinzel with Photographer Duane Wolter Email

The win was already locked up, when Friday night, Menomonie scored what just might be its most meaningful touchdown to date. It was a score that epitomizes what’s at the heart of the game.

It was after a 66 yard run that the chants broke out in Menomonie. Chants of “Kolden! Kolden! Kolden!”

At practice, Sam Kolden stands silently on the sideline.

"He's just as much a part of this team as any other player and he puts in just as much work,” says Garrett Anderson, a tight end for Menomonie.

Surrounded by his teammates, a developmental disability sometimes has Sam struggling to keep up. But no one would ever accuse the senior of giving up.

"I work as hard as I can when I get the chance," Sam says in his shy way.

"He's a great role model to our kids about giving everything you've got. He would never quit at anything he does. He works really hard," says Menomonie head coach Joe LaBuda.

Friday night, LaBuda's team was up by more than four touchdowns with just over a minute left on the clock. The coach called a time-out to get Sam into the game.

Then the team ran Sam’s play. A screen pass. Sam did the rest.

With Superior players diving at his feet, Sam Kolden didn't stop until he got to the end zone.

"It was amazing,” Sam says with a smile.

After the game Sam was given a rare Menomonie football game ball. A highlight and a touchdown even he's pretty sure is a once in a lifetime experience.

"We have it on top of the TV,” Sam says of his game ball. “Probably, wherever I go, it's going."

An unexpected hero.

“Just how happy I was,” Sam says of what the game ball reminds him of.

A gracious opponent.

"The coolest thing was the Superior kids and their coaching staff showed a tremendous amount of sportsmanship. You know, it'd be different if you did that when you were ahead by 40 points, but to be behind and say 'you know what? This is more important' and give up 7 more points. It was a tremendous example of their character and of what kind of people they are. Great act of sportsmanship. Class act on their part,” LaBuda says.

A moment in sports when winning comes second.

“Once we're done with this season, we'll look back at it and say that was something that was special. I’m pretty sure he'll remember it, and we will for the rest of our lives," Anderson says.

Sam says he started his football career in eighth grade. This is his second year on the varsity squad. He says when he caught that ball, his only thoughts were to run and to run fast.

He has high hopes his team will get to state this year.


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  • by Robb Williamson Location: Cherryville, NC on Oct 5, 2010 at 10:23 AM
    What a great story of sportsmanship, persistence and commitment! I am a Sam Kolden fan for life!!!
  • by anon Location: EC on Oct 1, 2010 at 09:06 PM
    I must say that my eyes were a little misty. I'm very proud of these young men. Hopefully this lesson will carry you through your lives. You did good!!!
  • by Eric Location: Eleva-Strum on Oct 1, 2010 at 06:51 AM
    It made me speachless when i saw the video...... it show us sportsmanship.
  • by Lauri Location: Ladysmith on Sep 30, 2010 at 08:36 PM
    It's so touching to see high school players and their coaches show compassion and humanity for another human being. Superior should be proud of the sportsmanship their boys showed. Thanks to Coach Labuda for recognizing Superior for their part in making one young man feel so important.
  • by Trina Location: Osseo on Sep 30, 2010 at 06:16 PM
    More news stories like this please and I will watch more of the news:) Media has the power to change the world and Now is the time to change it for the better!
  • by Kim Location: Clayton on Sep 30, 2010 at 04:42 PM
    Congrats to both Superior and Menomonie. Having a daughter with disabilities it was heartbreaking to watch her sit on the sidelines and not play, but for her it was being a part of the team. She went to every practice everyday and every game. She was trilled to ride that bus to away games and just be part of the team. Superior and Menomonie I hope you understand what you did that evening on that football field not just for Sam but for his family as well. I am hoping coaches from all over the area follow in the footsteps of the Superior and Menomonie coaches and not worry so much about the score.
  • by proud Location: SB on Sep 30, 2010 at 04:22 PM
    Superior, what an awesome group of athletes you are. You have just given a football player an experience he will never forget. 'The parents and the coach must be very proud of what morals they have instilled on these students.
  • by Brandon Location: Holcombe on Sep 30, 2010 at 01:00 PM
    Having had the pleasure of playing with a kid in high school basketball with disabilities, it was awesome to see high schools kids showing this kind of heart and sportsmanship still!! I remember my teammates pride and joy when he drained a 3 at the end of the game and how the entire gym erupted when he did it! That will be a moment in my life I will never forget! Kudos to both Menomonie and Superior teams for letting him have that opportunity! More High Schools should be looking up to both of these schools and modeling themselves after them! Sports is more about learning and growth as a person then it is about winning or losing!
  • by KW Location: EC on Sep 30, 2010 at 12:54 PM
    Awesome story and what sports is all about! I'm curious to hear what those who want sport programs cut to save a buck would have to say? hmmmmm
  • by Chuck Location: Menomonie on Sep 30, 2010 at 12:40 PM
    As a WIAA official, we stress to coaches and players, that sportsmanship is a must. I would like to give Superior High School coaches and players a HIGH FIVE for leading the way in sportsmanship in the way you conducted yourselves on the field!!! You are a CLASS ACT!
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