There are moments in our life, small moments, that change us. They may soften a hard heart or a hard head. They might change our perspective. And sometimes, they give us hope.
Coach Peter Morales wanted to deliver one of those moments. His Coronado High School Thunderbirds were playing their last game of the season. Coach Morales had a surprise for his team manager, Mitchell Marcus. He allowed him to wear a uniform and sit on the bench that final game. Not as a manager, but as a player.
A moment for Mitchell.
In the last 90 seconds of the game, Mitchell was called in. His coach and his teammates were determined to let the young man score one basket. Over and over he tried. A miss here, a miss there; it’s a disappointing ending. But it’s a teachable moment for Coronado High School and the city of El Paso. Sometimes there are more important things than scoring a basket. Sometimes records don’t matter. Some things are bigger than winning a game.
A moment for CHS.
And then something strange happened. The opposing team had the ball. Jonathon Montanez of Franklin High School did something I daresay 99% of kids wouldn’t do. He threw the ball in-bounds. To Mitchell.
A moment for Jonathon.
In the final seconds of the game, with both teams standing back to watch, Mitchell Marcus takes his shot. It barely makes it through the basket before the roaring crowd rushes the court, hoisting Mitchell on their shoulders.
A moment for all of us.
Mitchell Marcus is proof that living with a disability means living every moment. And the city of El Paso is proof that it’s possible.
The video currently making the rounds on Facebook and social media sites has been dubbed the greatest display of sportsmanship. It is that. But it’s so much more. Giving a differently abled kid a chance to play, both teams working to make his dream come true; that’s more than being a good sport. Classmates shouting his name, storming the court; it’s about more than basketball.
We live in a time when kids are bringing guns to study hall. Gang violence permeates inner city schools. Stories of bullying are rampant. Our faith in humanity is constantly shaken. We wonder if today’s children will grow up to be ungrateful, spoiled, self-absorbed or worse.
All it takes is 90 seconds to reaffirm our faith. There are children like Mitchell Marcus and Jonathon Montanez. There are coaches like Mr. Morales. And there are schools like Coronado and Franklin. There are groups of kids that buck the trend. They support a fellow classmate, disability be damned. They root for goodness and kindness. They give us hope.
Phillips Brooks said, “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.” On a Friday night in a Texas gym, the smallest of moments might just have become the greatest displays of character ever witnessed.
See video here: Act of Sportsmanship Gives Texas High Schooler Shot at Glory