GREAT FALLS — If you were at the Pacific Steel & Recycling Four Seasons Arena for the Class C girls basketball state tournament, odds are you saw Trael Smith. It would have been hard to miss him.
The Savage youngster, whose older sister Raigan was a freshman on the Warriors girls basketball team, was front and center all three days of the state tournament, cheering, dancing and having a good time.
With topics such as treatment of officials, which MTN Sports highlighted in detail last weekend, as well as sportsmanship, leadership and mentoring at the forefront of Montana high school athletics, Trael Smith was exactly what we needed.
Basketball tournaments create mixed emotions each winter in Montana. As one team wins and advances, another loses its hopes of a championship. Seniors are brought to tears as the final horn sounds on their prep careers, and the parents of those seniors are often misty-eyed in the stands.
Memories flood to the minds of coaches, who have spent countless hours training, mentoring and leading these student-athletes to be their best.
And for Savage, there was Smith, showcasing a bundle of emotions, which often changed in a matter of minutes: excitement, shock, confusion, pure elation and, eventually, sadness as the Warriors dropped their final game of the season in the State C consolation.
Smith’s antics were simple entertainment for the fans in Four Seasons Arena, bringing grins to their faces and, even if only for a brief moment, wiping away their own mixed emotions.
As the final seven state tournaments continue to advance in their brackets, we can only hope each is blessed with a Trael Smith of their own, someone to remind us what this time of year is supposed to be about.
Click the video above to watch a small sampling of Trael Smith’s entertaining cheering during last weekend’s Class C girls basketball state tournament in Great Falls.