Life’s Not a Movie

It was a story to rival anything in Hollywood’s imagination. A group of city kids, some facing hardships at home and violence on the streets come together to make an improbable underdog run toward a state basketball championship. For a side story how about the fact that budget cuts would most likely make it the last season they would play as a team. There always has to be a personal hook too so how about two coaches whose sons get lost in that violence. One dies and the other one goes to jail yet the two men are able to break the cycle of violence to work together for the good of the team and the young men within. The highpoint of the film would be an emotional speech from the coach after winning the game to send them to the championships. It almost writes itself, an inner-city Hoosiers.
That’s the backstory behind the Strong Vincent Colonels this year. Coach Shannon Pullium made that speech to his team after the win that would send them to Hershey, saying he loved each player on the team and if he and his assistant could get past their history then the players can find non-violent ways to solve problems.
But life’s not a movie and reminders of that can be brutal. The team went on to play Imhotep Charter, a school that pulls kids in from across Philadelphia, a school that was ranked by USA Today as the number 6 team in the entire country.
The Erie squad played hard but was no match for the deeper and deeply talented Panthers, earning the silver trophy following the 80 to 52 loss.
“That’s the best team I’ve ever coached against in my 18 years,” Coach Pullium would say later.
Despite the loss it remains a great story. It’s a story of priorities, knowing what’s important in shaping of young lives. It’s proof of the success that comes through hard work and the lessons that can be learned of the right way to handle things.
My congratulations go out to Coach Pullium and his staff not only for a memorable season but for keeping an eye on the prize of providing the right kind of guidance for their players.
Without the storybook ending Hollywood may not come calling. But perhaps it should.

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