LACKAWANNA COUNTY – The Cougars at Valley View are hitting the field, preparing for what they hope to be a championship year on the gridiron. Many of these high school athletes say they’re drawing their inspiration and work ethic from Team USA.
“They are extraordinary athletes,” said senior Anthony Galantini. “It`s something many people cannot accomplish, what they do.”
“They put everything into it. They put their blood sweat and literal tears into everything,” said senior Garrett Rupe.
But just this past week, judo competitor Nicholas Delpopolo was sent packing from the Olympic Village after testing positive for marijuana.
Wrestler Stephany Lee never even made the trip across the pond after drug tests showed she had used pot as well. Even Michael Phelps has been reprimanded for pot use after Beijing in 2008.
It’s something high school athletes say is hard to watch.
“Seeing them do those kinds of things, it does frustrate you because you really don`t know who to look up to at that point,” said Galantini.
“A lot of them think they can just get away with that and it makes high school athletes think that. And then a lot of high school athletes end up doing it because their idols are doing the same thing,” said senior Darnell Ashton.
As many of these Valley View athletes look up to the Olympians and other professional athletes, they say they lean more on each other to make sure they`re all performing at their very best.
“That’s the most important thing here, we do things the right way,” said head football coach George Howanitz.
“You turn, you stick to your teammates and your parents and your coaches because they tell you, ‘you’ve got to keep your head on straight,’” Galantini added.
Coach Howanitz tells his players constantly how their actions off the field reflect on the Cougar program on the field.
“We try to tell them a bad decision can affect a lot. It affects a lot in your future whether it`s college or if you want to play in college.”
It’s a message many of them are taking to heart, even when some of the world’s champions are not.
This is the first Olympic Games where the International Olympic Committee has banned an athlete during competition.
Olympians caught doping in the past were disqualified prior to competition.