Monday, February 26, 2018

Champions of the Heart

If you are a Spartan athletic fan, you either attended the boys state championship game or you by now know the outcome. Gaston Day lost by two points in double overtime to Carmel Christian. Congratulations to Carmel Christian on their hard-fought victory.

My son Isaac, a 2007 GDS graduate, and I were there for the semi-finals victory at Westchester Country Day over Asheville Christian on Friday afternoon, spent the night in Winston-Salem, and arrived at Forsyth Country Day for the noon championship game. It was a great game between two great teams. We were up by ten points at half-time, and things looked so hopeful. Carmel Christian fought back. At the end of regulation, Gaston Day had a close-range shot to win the game that literally hung on the rim for what seemed to me like three seconds before finally trickling out. If all the Spartan fans in the gym could have tilted the planet slightly and made that ball drop through the hoop, we would have. At the end of the second overtime, we had a three-point shot at the buzzer that also would have won the game. Alas, the shot did not go in, and we lost by two points. All of us wanted so badly to win. But nobody more badly than Coach Trent McCallister, Coach Jody Patton, Coach Ed Addie, and our players. 

What makes this loss so tough is just how much we admire and respect the varsity basketball team and its coaches and how fitting it would have been for them to win. They worked so hard to be the best, and they came up one point short in regulation, one point short in the first overtime, and three points short in the last overtime. Part of the reason their loss is so hard for me is that I wanted it so badly for them. They were so deserving!!!

Every single player on the team is a gentleman and a scholar. That may sound cliché but in their case it is absolutely true. The basketball players are our classmates, friends, and students. They are humble, kind, hardworking, and talented. The four seniors--Nate Hinton, Quan McCluney, M. J. Armstrong, and Bailey Gardin--have provided us with so much entertainment and pride with their accomplishments on the court. But they made us even prouder with their hard work in the classroom and their laughter and friendliness in the hallways.

Those of you who have heard my graduation charge know that one of my favorite passages in Scripture is Romans 5:4 which talks about the way suffering produces character, and character produces perseverance, and perseverance produces hope. Our varsity boys basketball team embodies character, perseverance, and hope. In all the things that truly matter in life, they are winners. I look forward to following their careers after they graduate from Gaston Day and watching them continue to grow as young men and accomplish things for themselves, their families, and their communities. I am so proud of the boys varsity basketball team, most of all because of their individual characters. 

This basketball team and their season will always be special to me. Part of the reason is the grace and skill with which they played, the fierceness with which they competed, and their unselfishness. They were a beautiful team. But even more important, they were beautiful teammates, classmates, and friends. They embodied the spirit and the values of our school. The boys varsity basketball team and the rest of the school truly belonged to each other. 

Thank you 2017-2018 boys varsity basketball for representing the best of Gaston Day School. You gave us your all, and it was more than we ever could have asked for. You are champions of our hearts.