Top 5 Feel-Good moments from 2009


4 Responses to “Top 5 Feel-Good moments from 2009”

  1. December 31, 2009 at 2:35 PM

    We told you a couple of months ago about the end-of-the-year list Doug Abrams puts out, picking the five most positive youth sports stories from among the thousands he sifts through every year. This year’s is now out.

    Abrams, by the way, is a University of Missouri law professor, but we think his more notable work is done in the field of youth sports. He is connected with the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island, has coached youth ice hockey for 41 years and sends out a daily e-mail with several articles about youth sports to anyone who wants to be part of his massive mailing list (AbramsD@missouri.edu).

    He puts together his best-of-the-year list to show “how noble sports can be.”

    In introducing this year’s list, Abrams wrote, “Heroism begins with leadership. Parents and coaches want sports to teach children leadership skills, yet we sometimes forget that young athletes (like the rest of us) learn leadership best when they actually lead.”

    Here are five examples Abrams gives us to show how kids can lead when we give them a chance.

    No. 5: When Weymouth (Mass.) High School girls’ tennis coach John Caterer learned that his wife Laura had breast cancer, he kept the news from the players, who “don’t need to worry about what I’m dealing with.

    “I didn’t give the kids enough credit,” Caterer admitted later. Once the team learned the diagnosis in April, the tri-captains supervised whenever he needed to be with his wife, and the players used pink tennis balls and wore pink wristbands.

    The team finished with a losing record, but one captain said that supporting their coach’s family meant “way more … than a tennis season.”

    No. 4: After 10-year-old goalie Braxton Rel died in his sleep from apparent complications following a tonsillectomy, his Albuquerque, N.M., hockey league held a six-team memorial tournament in March. The Durango (Colo.) Steamers won, and Braxton’s Grizzlies finished fourth.

    When the Steamers’ Kele Steffler accepted his team’s championship trophy, the 10-year-old approached the microphone without prompting and handed the prize to the Grizzlies.

    “We want Braxton’s team to have the trophy,” Steffler told the crowd. “This should be for Braxton.”

    No. 3: In September, all-state running back Thamail Morgan raced toward the end zone for a touchdown in the final seconds. His Cave City (Ark.) High School team led, 34-16, against Yelleville-Summit, a weaker team formed from two small rural schools without enough players for separate squads. Yelleville-Summit was also grieving for a teammate killed in a truck accident two weeks earlier.

    Morgan stopped on the 2-yard line, stepped back, and took a knee on the 5. “I knew,” he said later, “that scoring was not the right thing to do.”

    No. 2: In the sixth inning against Carmel (Calif.) High School in early May, Gonzales High School third baseman Manuel Madrid fielded a grounder and saw the pinch runner on third bolt for home plate. Throwing home would have caught the runner easily, but Madrid turned instead and threw to first as the run scored.

    The runner on third was senior Will Rudolph, whose mild cerebral palsy affects his motor skills, balance and speech.

    “I was going to throw home, but then I realized who it was,” said Madrid, who explained that providing Will a “special moment” in his first game was “the right thing to do.”

    No. 1: When Milwaukee Madison (Wis.) High School senior Johntell Franklin’s mother died of cancer in February, Franklin decided to sit out that night’s basketball game against DeKalb (Ill.) High School but then changed his mind. His name was not listed when he arrived during the second quarter, so the referees assessed a two-shot technical foul against his team.

    When the ref tossed him the ball at the foul line, DeKalb’s Darius McNeal rolled it past the end line. Then he rolled the ball again on the second shot.

    Echoing Thamail Morgan and Manuel Madrid, McNeal said later that he intentionally missed both free throws “for the guy who lost his mom. It was the right thing to do.”
    * * *

    As Abrams gladly points out, “all these players tried their hardest to win, but they remained noble in victory or defeat. This year’s lesson is for parents and coaches: When we guide young athletes and encourage them to lead, the players usually get it right and leave us proud.”

    Thanks for the reminder.

  2. 2 Eric
    December 31, 2009 at 3:59 PM

    It would be nice if these articles were more frequent. I wonder if these are so meaningful because of the positive message they send or because they are the “exception” from all of the negative stories we hear about?

    Happy New Year.

  3. December 31, 2009 at 6:07 PM

    unfortunately, the folks who “do the right thing” are grossly outnumbered by the morons who walk among us.

    Just the same, I’ll take this handful of inspiring stories with me into the new year.

  4. 4 Diane
    December 31, 2009 at 7:33 PM

    ok, I’m a sap – but a couple of these actually brought tears to my eyes! Kudos to the coaches and parents of these kids – clearly they’re doing something right!

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