Okay so the student's name is not actually John but it works....
This is a TRUE story:
John's a great athlete but rarely gets playing time, he doesn't mind he loves the team more than he loves the sport. He's a great kid, one that if I had to adopt any kid on any team from any era of my coaching tenure it would be him, to make the story short, he gets it.
John's mom came up to me during the school day and said that John's grandfather was ill and wanted to come see John's football team play. The family knew that Grandpa's time was short. John's mom asked of the coach (me) if could he just get in for a few plays so his grandfather could see him play.
It was the fourth quarter and we were winning, but not by much, and it was time to put John in. He didn't know many of the plays, I tried to get him the ball. He fumbled. I called a play it didn't work. Even though we were winning it was only by 3 points and we were getting very close to our side of the 50 yard line, I can't punt them the ball, we needed a first down. What happened next was nothing short of amazing.
I called Blue 42 which was our hitch play, thinking we could get enough for a first down, John, as the inside receiver ran a seam route. Basically, it's a route where Joe gets as close the the safety as possible by runs directly down the field and dos not stop. The play design was similar to this one:
The play started, nothing was open the the right, the quarterback scrambled, he looked left nothing was open short and he let the ball go deep. There's no one anywhere near that area, except John.
John got in the game that day, he caught a 45 yard touchdown pass to seal the victory. I looked on in amazement, I cried on the sidelines. I found the parents and grandparents of John in the stands and smiled. Something greater than me happened that day.
Here's the letter I had slid under my door the next morning:
Dear Coach McGee,
To everyone else on the sidelines and in the bleachers it looked very much like a routine reception and another score. The team and the crowd celebrated heartily but they could not possibly have known what they were really witness to. It was not a simple touchdown but rather one of those precious and rare perfect moments in life. They were unaware it was a moment when so many seen and unseen elements came together to create a perfect outcome that can never be repeated. A few of us however, were fortunate to know that the play on the field and the story in the stands was a moment to cherish forever.
Number 20 will never have another opportunity to take the field with his grandfather in the stands. His grandfather wil never again experience the thrill and excitement of being in the stands on a perfect football day scanning the field for his grandson who was named in his honor. As wonderful as it would be for them to come together again as player and proud spectator, neither of them really needs that any longer as a more perfect script could not have been written or executed. A few magical seconds on the field delivered a bolt of confidence for a young man and a moment of the purest joy for a dying man. Both will carry the moment with them for the rest of their lives.
I know I will never think about my father without remembering a perfect play on a perfect day. Thank you for your part in shaping a moment that will be forever in the memory of three generations of a grateful family.