We were greeted by overcast skies this morning, but the cloud coverage kept away the heat and humidity throughout the day. All three divisions had a full day of Olympic competition, and I was in my glory as I bounced from game to game cheering on our boys.
Our Seniors featured a much anticipated match-up on the basketball court, giving our best players in camp one more opportunity to go head to head. The Green team had one of our best players in camp on their team, but he was sidelined due to a broken right thumb on his shooting hand. As both teams were warming up for the game, the Okee standout came onto the court, reminiscent of Willis Reed coming through the tunnel at Madison Square Garden to provide the emotional lift the New York Knicks needed to beat Wilt Chamberlain and the LA Lakers back in the seventies. The Green team jumped out to a 25-3 lead. I moved along to watch other games around camp. Senior group leader, Neil Minsky, called me on my radio to tell me to get back to the court as the Grey team was mounting a comeback. With just a minute left in the game, the Grey team had battled back and was only down by four. Knowing that they had to foul to get the ball back, the Grey team intentionally fouled the injured Okee player, forcing him to the foul line with seconds left on the clock and a dominant hand in a cast. The Okee stepped up to the line and drained two foul shots with his left hand, solidifying the win for the Green team.
A week prior, I sat with this camper who contemplated leaving camp early because of his injury. Today, he was a hero and created a memory that is sure to last his lifetime. This was one of the many special moments displayed during today’s competition.
At another field, I captured an Intermediate soccer game and the final penalty kick that hoisted one team to victory in overtime. I posted a clip on my Instagram account and remarked how both teams embraced when the game came to an end. Our boys have competed this summer with great passion and tenacity. However, what’s more commendable is the respect our boys display to their friends and opponents when the game was over.
There was another moment that I witnessed today that took my breath away. It took place during a Junior flag football game. The score was close. Only one touchdown separated the two teams. The ball was on the ten-yard line with very little time on the clock. The defense keyed in on the top few offensive players, knowing they were bound to be involved in this pivotal next play. But, the quarterback quickly pitched the ball in the opposite direction to a camper who has such poor eyesight that he rarely has the ball thrown to him in a game. The camper caught the pass and ran with a huge smile into the end zone for his first touchdown. Sharing in this camper’s joy, both teams ran into the end zone to embrace and cheer this camper’s success. During a summer when we have been faced with many challenges and had our share of sacrifices, these are the moments that help keep life in its proper perspective.