Just no quit in this senior
Many of today's student-athletes will hang up their tennis shoes or cleats before they reach the varsity level if the writing is on the wall that they are destined to see little playing time.
In years gone by, it was just an honor to be on the team, no matter what amount of playing time they got. Today, it's "play-me-or-I-quit" for many athletes.
Morgan Moorse is more like an old school athlete. While Minneota reached the Class A state basketball tournament a few weeks ago, the senior spent the majority of the games seated at or near the end of the bench until a few minutes remained.
"Morgan is one of those girls that you really have to admire and appreciate," said Minneota girls basketball coach Chad Johnston. "It seems like more and more athletes are walking away from sports because it is too hard, they see no reward, or they want to focus on one specific sport. The drive to just be a part of something is not as important as it used to be."
While the other five seniors on the team saw extensive minutes in every game, Moorse only saw playing time in the waning minutes, or even seconds, of a game if the Vikings were way ahead, or the game was clearly decided before the final horn.
More often than not, though, Moorse got a basket or a rebound, or both, when she did get into a game. She appeared in 19 games this season in limited minutes, scoring in 11 of those games to finish the season with 31 points, including a season-high five points against Lakeview. She also had 15 rebounds.
"What I was looking to accomplish was to score a couple of baskets and to play the game smart," she said. "Another thing was showing my team what I could do outside of practice. Letting the team down was one thing I wouldn't let happen, so when I was in, I worked my butt off."
Moorse admits she wanted to play more than she did, just like anyone else. She wasn't just content going to practice every day, only to sit on the bench during a game.
"Most of the game I was hoping we would get ahead so I could play," Moorse said. "But if I didn't get to play, I was upset, but at the same time I was happy we won the game."
Johnston admired Moorse's desire to stay with the sport that she obviously enjoyed playing, even if the minutes on the court were few and far between.
"Morgan came to practice every day with a great attitude, but unfortunately, did not see the same reward as some of her teammates when it came to playing time," Johnston noted. "She accepted her role on the team very well and worked hard to make herself and her teammates better."
While she likely would have seen more playing time on most other teams, the fact that she played on a team that featured a lot of talent was her downfall.
Moorse started playing basketball in fourth grade and stuck with it. She dressed for varsity and "played in a handful of games" last year as a junior.
To show how much an "old school" and unselfish player Moorse is, when asked to name her most memorable game, it had nothing to do with her being out on the court.
"The first game we played at state this year against Mountain Iron-Buhl," she responded, referring to unseeded Minneota playing the top-seeded Rangers in the quarterfinals.
"That was a game to remember," she added. "Just thinking about that game brings tears to my eyes thinking about how hard we played to get the win. Cheering for the girls on the bench was one thing that I will not forget."
Playing in a state tournament is a lifelong memory for a player, whether the team wins or not. With the first two games of the state tournament being exceptionally close, all Moorse could do was cheer for her teammates, knowing her chance of getting in was unlikely.
"I had so many mixed emotions about going to state," she said. "I would think this is just another time for me not to play, but I had some people that kept telling me that I need to cheer loud and proud, so that's what I did for all the games to give the other girls encouragement to keep playing hard. To me, the game was important because I'm a senior and going to state is a big thing."
In the championship, Hancock eventually gained a comfortable lead and with less than a minute left, Johnston signaled for Moorse to step out onto the Williams Arena court.
"Morgan led the group on the bench with great enthusiasm and I believe her teammates really appreciated it," said Johnston. "They, in return, were always her biggest fan when she was able to see some playing time."
"Being a part of the team meant a lot to me," she said. "Playing the actual game gives you such a happy feeling. I wanted to play more, but I am happy that I stayed. I just tried to keep my head up and work through the tough times."
Moorse lives on a farm southwest of Minneota with her parents, Derek and Dawn Moorse. She has three sisters, Jordan, Hidie and Ella.
"I feed and water about 60 chickens, three rabbits, about 15 cats, our two dogs Bubba and Ziggy, and our goat, Moe," she said.
Moorse is also an outfielder and catcher on the Minneota/Canby softball team this spring.
After graduation, Moorse plans to attend Lake Area Technical College in Watertown, SD, in the fall for Livestock Production and Management.
"I plan to graduate college and find a good job that will allow me to do what I love," she said.