Every kid that competes in high school athletics deserves the chance to show his or her stuff in front of a home crowd.

Be it the all-conference stud or a kid that is on the team just to be on the team, they all deserve a stage. And most get it.

But in my short time here, I have learned that the Madras High School track and field team has not hosted a meet in, well, a long time.

Depending on who you talk to, or at least those I’ve talked to in the past three weeks, it’s been anywhere from seven to 12 years.

Time frames vary and that’s fine. But the bottom line is, it’s been too long.

When I first heard about this, I was shocked. In all my years of covering high school sports, I can’t remember ever hearing about a team not getting to host at least one home event in a two-year cycle.

It boggles my mind that so many Madras kids have never had the opportunity to compete in front of their hometown crowd. Or even in front of their parents.

To me, the allure of high school sports is not only the level of competition, but that parents, grandparents and anyone else who wants to watch, can.

There are no ticket problems, travel hassles or money issues.

You can walk down to the stadium or field and watch, cheer and be proud.

As a fan, you are helping out the community by buying a cheap ticket, a cheap hot dog and a drink. And you show your support by sitting on a crappy seat.

But you show your support and that is what high school sports are all about.

So it was refreshing for me to learn that the Madras track team will finally get to host a meet and have a home crowd.

That will happen April 1 in Culver. It may not be an official home meet but it is as close as this group will come.

And it is a long time in coming.

I’ve heard the stories about the track at Madras High; it was so bad that no one dared even walk on it. Kids couldn’t practice on it and there was no way a meet could be held on it.

I know it would suck to not be able to compete at home, period. But to not have that option your whole high school career, I can’t even begin to imagine that.

But things are about to change. And for the better.

Until the new surface is ready for use for the 2015 season, the Buffs are forced to hit the road, as always, for each meet.

In the past, many of those meets were in the Portland area, sometimes twice a week, which made it hard for parents to see their kids compete. Some kids that have been through the program have never had family in the stands.

But that changes this season.

With new coach Melissa Bowerman in charge, Madras track fans can expect a lot of changes.

The first is getting a pseudo home meet.

With the help of Mike Dove, the Culver High track coach, the Buffs and Bulldogs are hosting a meet on April 1 in Culver that will act as a defacto Madras Senior Day. It is an opportunity for Buff athletes to perform in front of home fans, most of them for the first time, ever.

And it is a chance for those fans to show their support.

Hopefully, Bulldog Stadium will be packed with both Culver and Madras parents and fans. There is nothing better for a young athlete to hear than familiar voices rooting them on.

I know when I was in high school, we always played before a packed house. Even on the road, we usually had more fans than the home team.

And it made a difference.

So here is your chance to make a difference. Whether you have a kid on either team or not, make an effort to go out and support some local talent.

The coaches will appreciate it and the kids definitely will.

I liken it to Madras baseball a decade ago or so. Those that went to games had no clue that a future two-time World Series champ was on that field.

So on April 1, be a part of the Madras-Culver Invite. You never know who you might see compete.

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