Everyone who loves sports loves an underdog. It's the athlete or team that appears to be over matched, yet finds a way to succeed against all odds. Perhaps no group fits that persona better than the 1997 Girl's Track and Field Team at Boys Town high school. Squaring off against Nebraska class B squads from much larger school with many more athletes, Boys Town's team qualified just four girls for the 1997 State meet. But what that foursome accomplished might be one of the most remarkable underdog performances in Nebraska high schools sports history.
Led by freshman Cairia Snoddy, who won four class B gold medals, the Cowboys captured the class B state championship in a landslide. Snoddy and her Boys Town team mates senior Rita Morrow [SP], junior Tamara Kurtenbach, and sophomore Simone Karohl racked up 62 team points, 18 points more than their closest competitor.
The championship was an historic first. It was lauded as a tremendous accomplishment, not only for the team but also for the Boys Town, which had introduced girls to its residential program less than 20 years earlier. Each girl played a role in the championship, and they appropriately capped their victory by running as a team to win the final event of the day, the 400-meter relay. To this day, the 1997 State Track Championship remains the only State title ever won by a Boys Town girl's athletic team.
Sports have always played a critical role in Boys Town's healing environment. In the home's early years, the boys played marbles, and baseball, and learned how to box. Organized team sports were later introduced as part of the school's system, and were expanded when girls were admitted to Boys Town in 1979.
Today, Boys Town coaches use the organization's own Competing with Character program to instill the values of fairness, good sportsmanship, and ethical behavior in their student athletes. Boys Town's athletics programs and sports teams are important because they help instill a sense of community and pride in troubled boys and girls, most of whom have never experienced these things before. Most importantly, it prepares boys and girls for real life experiences including how to win with class and lose with dignity. At Boys Town playing sports has always meant more than just winning, but on one special spring weekend in 1997, four girls who were working to change their lives at Boys Town came together to excel and reach the pinnacle of their high school athletic careers.