When Winning Isn’t Everything
It’s what youth and scholastic sports is supposed to be all about. We place a lot of importance on winning – but learning lessons about life are far more important. When you can get both it doesn’t get any better.
The Grand Island High School baseball team advanced to the state championship Final Four with an improbable 7 to 6 win over Honeoye Falls-Lima on Thursday. The Vikings were down to their final out and trailing by three runs in the bottom of the 10th when coach Dean Santorio called on senior Matt Lenz as a pinch runner. Matt hadn’t played a whole lot during the season, but this day was different. Hours before Matt had attended the funeral of his dad who died of cancer.
So here in the most important game of the season, coach Santorio didn’t call on one of his “star” players, he called on Matt to head out to third base. At 5’10″ and 240 pounds Matt isn’t your prototypical pinch runner. He’d never been called as a pinch runner before but Santorio thought it was the right thing to do. And so did the fans who gave Lenz a standing ovation.
The whole game changed when that happened. A base hit brought Lenz home and the entire team was there to greet him. Still down two runs and with only one out left – the Vikings brought home two more runs to win a game that not even the coach thought they could win. But winning was not the most important thing at the moment Santorio tapped Matt to enter the game.
A lot of people at the game think Matt’s dad from up above somehow intervened in the Grand Island victory. But if not for a coach wanting to do the right thing it would never have happened. How many coaches involved in youth sports think that way? All of them should.
Congratulations to a real class act – coach Dean Santorio and best wishes to the Grand Island Vikings baseball team in their drive for a state title.