Sports can remind of us of everything wrong with our world.
This week, we learned, or I should say, relearned that big time college basketball is a corrupt cesspool disguised as intercollegiate sport. We read every week of another billionaire team owner trying to force a city to stop wasting tax dollars on public welfare and instead, use them to build him a shiny new stadium to replace the inadequate one the taxpayers built him 30 years ago.
Sometimes, sports can remind us of everything that’s right with our world. This is one of those times.
Our story begins with a young man named Jack Winum. Jack plays for coach Remy Babineaux on the Geneva Generals 10 and under youth hockey team. Coach Babineaux is old school. He believes playing a team sport means making a commitment. It means showing up on time for practice and being ready to work hard. He believes playing time is something earned. Earlier this season, he noticed that it didn’t appear Jack was fully committed. He would sometimes be late for practice. Sometimes, it seemed his mind was elsewhere. Then, Remy found out why. Jack’s father, Jarrett Winum, was recently diagnosed with cancer. He’s feeling well these days, but the long term prognosis is not good. It’s possible Jack Winum’s Dad won’t get to see him graduate from high school.
Remy Babineaux and the Geneva youth hockey organization decided to do something to help the Winum family. For a day, the Geneva Generals would be the Winum Warriors. They were able to purchase special Warriors uniforms at a discount and put together a number of fundraisers, culminating in a day of events today at the Geneva Recreation Complex , including an eight and under youth hockey game, public skating and a game between the Winum Warriors and Salmon River.
I was asked to be the public address announcer for the game. I’ve been friends with the Winum family for several years and immediately agreed. I gave it my best big time delivery in announcing the starting lineups, including team captain for the day Jack Winum. Jarrett did the ceremonial puck drop before the opening faceoff and there was a check presentation for $1095 to the Winum family during the second intermission.
The game was a good one, with a surprising level of skill displayed by these ten year olds. Salmon River scored two goals in the first period, but the scrappy Warriors came back with two in the second to send the game to the third period tied 2-2. In the third, Salmon River went back on top 3-2 and it looked like time might run out on the Warriors. They pulled their goalie the final minute for an extra skater and mounted one last attack on the Salmon River goalie. Then, with 28 seconds left in the game, the Warriors tied it up on a goal by a player who had never scored a goal in his life. You know who it was. It was number 31, team captain for the day Jack Winum, with his mom and dad and sister looking on and hundreds in the Cooler going nuts. The game ended 3-3.
That’s one story book ending. Here’s hoping there will be another one for this family of Warriors.