When you watch sports on TV, you don’t always witness the best behavior. For example, in the NBA there are characters like Draymond Green who berate officials constantly and swear at opposing teams excessively. In the NFL, we can watch guys like Ndamukong Suh purposely step on people and any number of players can always be seen taunting.
Basically, professional athletes are not always the best example of good sportsmanship. Last week, a local high school baseball player showed all of us just how to handle one of the biggest moments in an athlete’s career.
Mounds View High School’s Ty Koehn was pitching in a section final game against Totino-Grace. The game was seemingly in hand with two outs in the last inning. Totino-Grace sent up Jack Kocon to the plate, a player who just a few games earlier had the game winning hit against Mounds View. Kocon also happened to be lifelong friends with Koehn.
After throwing strike three and sealing the trip to the State Tournament, the Mound View players jumped up and sprinted to the mound in jubilation, as anyone in that situation would do. Kocon’s head fell as he knew his high school baseball career was over.
Instead of celebrating with his teammates, Koehn headed straight to home plate. He even had to shrug off a teammate to get to Kocon, who he locked up in a strong embrace. According to multiple interviews, he told him that he loved him and reminded him that their friendship was more important than any game.
Let’s take a second for some self-reflection. How many of us could honestly say we would have done the same thing in that situation? That moment, a state tournament trip hanging in the balance, is what every high school athlete dreams about. You pour your heart and soul into the game for nearly your whole life. The natural reaction is to rejoice at the accomplishment of your team. Even if I had just struck out my father, I can guarantee you my instant reaction would be to celebrate as my emotions ran wild.
Instead, Koehn did what very few of us could do. He was there for his good friend to let him know that it would be okay. After consoling his friend, Koehn then was able to celebrate with the rest of his teammates.
If you haven’t seen the video online, it is worth the watch. All of the local media outlets picked up the heartwarming story as well as many national outlets like ESPN. Koehn even received many interview requests, but insisted that Kocon also be on camera. Another sign of a true friend.
We all take sports too seriously sometimes. At the end of the day, sports are there for our entertainment, to create lasting relationships, and to learn life lessons. Koehn reminded us all of the life lesson that winning isn’t always the most important thing.
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