So I was covering the NWAACC men's soccer match between Columbia Basin College and Walla Walla Community College on Saturday at CBC.
And these are two teams that have plenty of natural rivalries built in, with a total of 26 players between the two teams coming from area schools. So naturally, you would expect some of those passions to come into play.
Sure enough, in the second minute of the game, there was a skirmish that broke out on the east sideline. A pair of midfielders — CBC's Gavin Richter, a Kamiakin grad, and WWCC's Paul Herrera out of Pasco — started shoving one another after some heavy contact at the center line.
It could have elevated into something much worse, as players began to head toward the fray, but one of the people that helped keep things cool was the center referee Mikhail Alnajaar. I never get tired of watching Mikhail work the center, because he's always in control of a game and he knows how to reach people.
Anyway, he got right in the middle of things and put an end to the flare up. But what he did after that was something they should teach in refereeing 101. He brought Richter and Herrera back together and had them shake hands in front of him.
It should also be said that Richter and Herrera are two of the better players to come out of the area over the last few seasons, but they also know the meaning of sportsmanship. Not only did they shake hands, they gave each other a hug, too. A nice little moment that brought a touch of class to a great match, which the Hawks won 1-0.
I was standing next to the scorekeepers, and one of them said, "He didn't even give them a yellow card. That was cool."
Indeed it was.