An Inspirational Victory
As most of you likely recall, our men’s basketball team gained national recognition last winter for an act of sportsmanship which ultimately led to a Gettysburg student-athlete having the opportunity to score his first—and only—collegiate basketball point, some three years after suffering a stroke. While that demonstration of moral courage happened to have occurred during a loss, last season was, on the whole, a successful one for our Shoremen, who reached the Centennial Conference semifinals for the second time in three years.
On Saturday I bore witness to another, though very different, display of moral courage by our team. Having graduated eight players last May, including one (Kevin Breslin) who is now touring the world playing against the Harlem Globetrotters, this year’s Shoremen no doubt knew this season would be a challenge. All but three of this year’s players are freshmen or sophomores and, to add to the degree of difficulty, two of the team’s would-be top forwards have not played a minute this season due to injury.
Thus, through inexperience, injury, illness, and even a few ill-timed bounces of the ball, our Shoremen woke up Saturday morning with a season record of zero wins and 14 losses. Their opponent on Saturday was none other than Franklin & Marshall, the defending champions of the Centennial Conference who had yet to lose a conference game this season and who brought a national ranking of 14th with them to Chestertown. It may have been understandable had our Shoremen faced their opponent with less than maximum levels of confidence and effort. Precisely the opposite happened.
From the opening tip, the Shoremen out-hustled and out-played their more ballyhooed foes, building a lead as large as 10 points in the first half. When F&M responded in the second half, staking out a five-point lead of its own, our Shoremen promptly scored 12 of the next 14 points and when F&M had a chance to win the game in the closing seconds, those same Shoremen made the defensive stand they needed to earn a hard-fought 62-61 victory. On paper, it may have seemed a most improbable victory, but the determination shown by our student-athletes demonstrated a belief in themselves that belied their circumstances. Further, that belief in themselves and in each other reflected a moral courage capable of exceeding others’ expectations and overcoming obstacles, which will well serve these young men throughout their lives.
What made the events of Saturday even more remarkable is that this sort of thing no longer surprises me from our men’s basketball team. Coach Rob Nugent and his players routinely demonstrate integrity, persistence, and grit no matter the level of success the team has been having on the court. I encourage you to watch a clip of the closing seconds of Saturday’s game and, if possible, to attend the Shoremen’s next home game this Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against Ursinus College. If you are unable to attend, you can cheer from afar by watching the game on GooseNationTV.com.