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South Williamsport, PA
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The Last Game

For South Williamsport softball player Gianna Godfrey, it was one of those ah-ha moments. Approaching the Mountaineers’ practice field on a sunny afternoon, the senior outfielder was greeted by five large poster photos newly adorning the backstop fence. One of those photos was of Godfrey. A bystander also noticed the photo and complimented her on

For South Williamsport softball player Gianna Godfrey, it was one of those ah-ha moments.

Approaching the Mountaineers’ practice field on a sunny afternoon, the senior outfielder was greeted by five large poster photos newly adorning the backstop fence. One of those photos was of Godfrey. A bystander also noticed the photo and complimented her on what a nice picture it was. The player’s reaction was a stunned “oh.”

Thinking Godfrey did not like the poster, she was asked, and “Don’t you like it?”

“Yes. The picture’s fine,” she responded. “But it just hit me. That’s us up there. For the last three years, I’ve been seeing the Senior pictures up there, but it was always them, and I had more years to play. Now realizing I’m one of those Seniors, and it makes me think how fast the time has gone by. The season is winding down, and we only have a few games left to play with each other.”

A few days later, Godfrey was the recipient of another senior year jolt when she was named the Senior Prom queen.

Yes, reality can sometimes come at you like a brick wall. For Godfrey and all the other high school senior athletes approaching the end of their scholastic and athletic careers, almost all of them are also asking that same ‘where has the time gone’ question. Only a few games remain in the regular season. Those fortunate enough to have their team make the playoffs with get a brief reprieve from the inevitable, but that LAST GAME is on the horizon.

For years and decades, athletic coaches have been preaching the same sermon to their players, telling them their high school days are the best days of their lives; to enjoy the moment; give the sport your best effort; have no regrets; play each game as if it is to be your last. Now, that last game is upon them.

For all involved, athletes, parents, family, and coaches, seeing seniors depart what have been big parts of their young lives produces both emotional and memorable moments. I’ve lived them as a player, a coach, parent, and grandparent, and for better or worse, those emotions have always been there.

Telling tales on oneself is never pleasant, but the worst moment I ever experienced as a sports parent came as my senior son Doug’s basketball season was winding down. His team needed to win four of their last five games to make the playoffs. In a pivotal game at Jersey Shore (which they would lose), the worst came out of me.

At the time, I was South Williamsport’s official scorer, seated at mid-court for every game. One of the least-understood calls in basketball is the block/charge call. It is, most of the time, purely judgmental in the eyes of the official. In this game, in a manner of minutes, Doug was called for a blocking call at one end of the court and a charging foul at the other end.

Instantly, in the heat of the moment, it was emotions, not reality, that swelled within me. I stood at the scorer’s table and voiced my displeasure at the official making the call. The entire gym drew silent as the official (someone I knew well) approached the table and calmly told me to sit down and shut up. Totally embarrassed; I did just that. Following the game, I made a trip to the official’s room to express my sincere apologies. That memory has not left me decades later.

Just last week, those emotions were strong, but my demeanor was much calmer as we drove two hours south to watch my youngest grandson Tucker play his Senior Day baseball game for Big Springs High School. Over the years, our five grandchildren have all been active in sporting activities, and we have been there to watch many of them. But, like Godfrey, there was also next year to take in more of their games.

This current school year has been a difficult one for our family. I have previously chronicled our daughter-in-law Angie’s intense battle with COVID-19 for three-plus hospital weeks. But through those stressful times, it has been Tucker’s sports involvement that has given us good times and memories.

He excelled on the football field, leading the Harrisburg area Mid-Penn Conference in interceptions, and helping his team to their first-ever playoff victory. As a shooting guard, he led his team in a three-point shooting percentage and took pride in his gained reputation for defensive prowess. Those defensive attributes carried over to the baseball field as he tracked down fly balls in centerfield.

As I watched Big Springs win that Senior Day game in extra-innings, those memories of all those games, my own, my son’s, and my grandchildren were all there within. This time, I didn’t make a fool of myself; rather, I stood with pride taking pictures of our own family senior moment.

I will be there to see Mountaineer teammates Claire Alexander, Olivia Beck, Emily Hartley, and Madyson Bower join Godfrey when they play their own final game. As you watch your own loved ones share the same experience, cherish the memories they will provide.