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For those of you who feel that our society is full of self-centered jerks, I’d like to share a small story that might have you modify those feelings, if ever so slightly.
For those of you who feel that the Liberty boys’ basketball team is made up of a bunch of hot-dogging individuals, I’d like to share the same small story, hopeful that it will have you modify your feelings to a more substantial degree.
Chris Harmon and Tyler Gilchrist are seniors on the Minutemen basketball team.
Last week, they helped guide Liberty to a first-place finish in the Northside Invitational tournament.
Harmon put up big offensive numbers, leading the team in scoring every game.
Gilchrist drew the unenviable task of guarding the biggest scoring threat from each of Liberty’s opponents.
Following the tourney, Harmon was awarded its most valuable player award.
Then the young man spontaneously had his own, private, MVP ceremony.
Harmon handed over possession of the award to Gilchrist, as a token of his esteem.
You see, Harmon realized that, without Gilchrist’s fine defensive work, there would be no championship. Invariably, these MVP awards are given to a player from the championship squad.
“It says a lot about both players,” said Liberty Head Coach Jeff Monroe.
It sure does. It says how well-regarded Gilchrist is for his defensive prowess.
It says that Gilchrist is willing to subordinate any scoring aspirations of his own, in order to help the team through his unique skills.
It says how much Harmon appreciates those efforts and what a team player he is.
It says that Harmon is the kind of player who sees the most critical statistic is the W-L column, rather than his individual performance. And, trust me, Harmon has very impressive individual stats.
But, here is what I find most impressive of all: Nobody associated with the team made a big deal of Harmon’s act (I actually heard about it from a fan of another team in the tourney).
I had talked with Coach Monroe at length after the game. Harmon’s action was so much in alignment with the young man’s character that the coach hadn’t even thought to mention it.
I mention it, because I think it’s worth doing so, if only to give fans of the team an idea of what makes up this season’s version of the Minutemen.
Some of you have given me an earful this season: The resounding theme has been selfishness.
Perceptions, whether deserved or not, are hard to overcome.
Does Harmon’s act of selflessness and acknowledgement make me think that the entire team is imbued of the same spirit?
Of course not.
But, given Harmon’s superb talent, it is reasonable to assume that his example should rub off on at least some of his teammates. Emulating him would seem to be a smart thing to do.
We live in a world of Bernard Madoffs and Rod Blagojevichs: one where scoundrels let avarice and greed win the day. It is certainly refreshing, therefore, to see a couple of 17-year-old athletes with such a sense of teamwork, selflessness and togetherness.
Harmon’s simple act of thoughtfulness doesn’t make everything better. It does, however, give you a warm feeling about the seasonally-appropriate goodwill toward man.
And, for those fans of Liberty basketball who seem to enjoy complaining about the lack of teamwork on this year’s crew, I ask you to think about this little tale before you launch your next rant.
As I stated at the start of this column, this is but a small story about a small gesture.
Sometimes small gestures can make big impacts.