There is some good stuff to report about the recent Cherokee/Pocahontas Area District football game in Cherokee - a thrilling game that the Braves were fortunate enough to win, 28-27.
Following a tackle in the fourth quarter of that game, Pocahontas Area's senior quarterback/defensive back J.R. Plantz suffered what was first thought to be a broken neck.
However, I'm over-joyed to report that J.R. - all gritty 140 pounds of him - just had a "stinger" type of an injury and, after extensive medical testing, was later released from the hospital and played AND STARRED that very next Friday night at Okoboji when he knocked down what would have been a game-winning Okoboji pass to lead his Indians to a crucial District victory that helped the Braves stay on course for a probable state playoff berth.
Suffice it to say that we Cherokee Braves football fans, parents, coaches, and administrators are spoiled because we have a doctor on the sideline at every game, home and away.
The thanks goes to retired Dr. Bob Martin who started the tradition more than 40 years ago, and, today, to the Cherokee Regional Medical Center and its incredible medical staff that works together to ensure we have a doctor and an athletic trainer (and at home games, a fully-equipped ambulance and crew) for every Braves football game.
It was Dr. Wes Parker and athletic trainer Jodi Schlichting who immediately responded to J.R. when he went down.
This quick response, resulting in quickly determining J.R.'s injury could be critical, led to his immobilization, and a stretcher and ambulance "ride" to the CRMC, and a series of testing over the next few days.
To everyone involved, the news that J.R. was OK and cleared to continue his prep football career was pure joy woven with countless prayers of thanks.
Especially to J.R.'s mother Kris, ironically a Registered Nurse who was rushed to the scene at George Hicks Field the night J.R. was injured.
Following is the thank-you letter Kris sent the Chronicle Times. She wanted to pay for its publication, but folks, we'll take letters and news like this every day of the week - no charge.
"We would like to thank the Cherokee community for their excellent care given to our son during a recent football game. To Dr. Parker, the athletic trainer (Jodi Schlichting), and the excellent paramedic crew of the Cherokee ambulance for their expertise and precautions on the field.
To Doyle Kruger, the nurses, the x-ray personnel, and the receptionist at the Cherokee Regional Medical Center for their professionalism and thorough care.
"To (Cherokee) coach (Neil) Phipps for coming to check on J.R., and the three young football players from Cherokee who also came to the hospital to show their concern. Your parents should be very proud that they have raised such fine young men!!
"Finally, to Dr. Parker for somehow being on the field so fast and his continued care and concern and phone calls all week to ensure our son was all right. We cannot thank you enough!
"If anyone had to suffer an injury like this, we were lucky we were in Cherokee.
"We will be forever grateful as we watch our son run on and OFF the field on Friday nights. Enjoy the rest of the season and that fun offense.
Randy, Kris, and J.R. (#2) Plantz, Pocahontas."
I called Kris Plantz the other day to thank her for such a wonderful, heart-felt thank-you letter. She was overwhelmed that our football team was so blessed to have such expert care on its sidelines every game home and away.
I told her that although Dr. Parker now works a majority of the Braves games, Cherokee physicians Dr. Tim Rice, Dr. Chris Vandelune, and Dr. Steve Veit also have worked games in the past, as did retired Dr. Tom Gary.
As we talked, she continued to applaud this community, our football team, and the CRMC's professional, expert medical staff that left such an endearing, indelible impression on her family.
"We owe Cherokee so much," she said. "When J.R. knocked down that pass against Okoboji that may help Cherokee make the playoffs, it was a good payback. At least, some payback."
As always in amateur athletics, beyond the scores and the wins and losses, are the highs and lows as we all live our lives. This is about as high as it gets.