Cancer. I hate it! You Hate it! We all hate it. One of the best things about youth sports these days is not just the athletics, but the focus the coaches and kids are putting on things that affect us off the courts and respective sports fields. Coach Jason Brown and the Northwest Lions take the focus on beating cancer to another level. I love covering this event for them, and frankly will rearrange my schedule if possible not to miss it. This week I was supposed to be in Fayetteville, NC visiting my son who is an Army Officer with the 82nd Airborne Division. That trip had to be postponed due to training he and his men were assigned. I believe it was Divine intervention so I could cover the Lady Lions basketball game as they hosted Mehlville.
When the game begins there is no cheering until the sixth point is scored by the home team. It’s a tribute called “Take 5 and Celebrate 6”. Fans remain silent while the teams on the court play the game through. Upon the home team scoring the six point the fans erupt in to a raucous cheering that shakes the rafters! The silence is a tribute to all those who we have lost to cancer. The cheering upon the sixth point is to encourage those battling and to let cancer know that we’re not going to stop fighting and we’ll never stop trying to find a cure to stop it. The first half of the game continues and then it’s halftime. This is where Northwest sets itself apart in my opinion. Coach Brown takes the mic and talks about a former colleague named Amy Simos. This game/event is named in her honor. I’ve never met Amy, but thanks to Coach Brown’s stirring speech about her I feel like I’ve known her my entire life. I can’t describe Coach Brown’s speech, it’s something you have to experience in person. I can tell you this, it’s emotional, it’s from the heart, and it’s inspiring! At this point Coach asks those in attendance, regardless of the team they’re rooting for, to stand and be recognized by his team with a hug. This is where the tears come – seeing the young women who have just played a half of intense varsity high school basketball running throughout the gym, up and down bleachers, and into the stands to hug family members, friends, and total strangers as a way to say in the immortal words of the GREAT cancer fighter Jim Valvano, “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up”.
The Northwest Band, Cheerleaders, and dance team all deserve to be recognized also. From the singing of the National Anthem, to reminding the crowd to remain quite, to the dance teams performance at halftime that was simply amazing! I don’t remember the song they performed to, but that’s honestly a credit to the ladies because of their performance. It was as if there was no music playing. Well done ladies, well done!
Way to go Lions, Way to go!