A Stones Throw 12-1-16

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I remember reading about the history of America’s Civil War, most of which was written about the battles, the atrocities, the Generals, and Presidents Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. At the same time, it seems there were often “brother against brother” stories where one brother fought for the North while another brother fought for the South.

I don’t know if those brother vs. brother stories were designed to show how the Civil War not only divided the country, but also divided families or if those stories were designed to personalize or romanticize the war.

Regardless, time and again, brother vs. brother conflicts appear in Civil War history. Occasionally the author would delve into the reasons each brother chose the side he did, but often just the fact that brothers faced off against each other was story enough.

Today, we can’t watch the news without seeing story after story that indicates a desire to start a new civil war. And, it seems we see at least one story about newly elected President Trump’s thoughts on creating an even stronger divide between the U.S. and Mexico.

While the various sides continue their rhetoric or their protests or their violence, an important conflict occurred between Mexico and the U.S. last week.

A conflict that pitted sister against sister.

In fact, twin sister against twin sister.

Twin sisters Sabrina and Monica Flores battled one another with the future of their country at stake.

The conflict unfolded with Mexico holding the upper hand until the U.S. made a last gasp effort to turn the tide in its favor.

Fortunately, this sister against sister conflict did not involve guns or bombs.

Instead – it involved a soccer ball.

Mexico and the U.S. squared off against one another in the Under 20 (U20) World Cup preliminaries. The winner moved onto the semi-finals of the 2016 World Cup.

For most of the game Mexico was in control, holding a 1-0 lead with just 13 minutes to go.

Monica Flores was 13 minutes away from going to the World Cup semi-finals with her Mexico team.

Thirteen minutes!

Thirteen minutes which allowed the U.S. to mount an assault that culminated with two goals and a 2-1 victory.

Sabrina Flores is going to semi-finals – not Monica.

The U.S. won – Mexico lost.

But, that is not the story.

Instead, the story became Sabrina and Monica. Not Sabrina vs. Monica, but Sabrina and Monica.

While Sabrina’s fellow team members celebrated on the field, she sought out her twin sister who stood crying near the sidelines.

Sabrina immediately reached for Monica and held her tight as she consoled her.

Sister against sister – yet, more importantly, sister for sister.

I think the story of America’s under 20 Women’s National Soccer Team victory over Mexico should be held as an example of what can be and what should be.

First, while seemingly dominated throughout the game, the U.S. women never gave up. They fought for victory to the bitter end.

And for the U.S. women there was no bitter end.

Second, when the battle was over, both sides stood together congratulating each other as friends and competitors.

And sisters showed that families can be on opposite sides and still be on the same side.

A lesson we all should learn.

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There were two other sports stories that were really not sports stories that I found interesting from last week.

First, The University of Iowa football team played Nebraska. History will show the Iowa Hawkeyes defeated the number 12th-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers 40-10. History won’t show that the Hawkeyes honored former Nebraska All America punter Sam Foltz with a special #27 commemorative jersey.

One week earlier, the University of Maryland did the same.

Sam Foltz was not only an All American, he was reportedly a well-liked leader in the community. He was to be a senior at Nebraska this year.

Instead he was killed in an automobile accident on July 23rd of this year. (Former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler was also killed in the same accident.)

Foltz’s death devastated the University of Nebraska and the University of Nebraska football team. In what is one of the most symbolic ways to honor a fallen teammate, Nebraska silently honored Foltz during its first game of the season.

The first time Nebraska’s offense had to punt, 10 men from the punting team lined up – without a punter.

Sam Foltz was supposed to be there to punt.

But, he wasn’t.

And, he would never be again.

So, for 45 seconds, 10 men stood in formation waiting. When the 45 seconds ran out, a delay of game penalty flag was thrown.

To Nebraska, it was not a delay of game – it was their way of honoring a fallen comrade.

Nebraska in a big way – Iowa and Maryland in a smaller way – showed the humanity of football.

On the same day Iowa was honoring Sam Foltz, the Chicago Cubs Matt Szczur was being honored by the Villanova Wildcats. Szczur, while in college, was a standout wide receiver for Villanova.

But, that is not why he was honored.

Instead, he was honored for a decision he made when he was 20 years-old.

Two months before the 2010 Major League draft, Szczur chose to donate bone marrow to a 15-month-old Ukrainian girl despite warnings that doing so could ruin his career.

Villanova honored Szczur for that decision last Saturday.

When asked about his decision, Szczur said, “I’m pretty much Anastasia’s life insurance…if anything happened, I’d be the first one they’d call.”

And, if he received that call – he did not hesitate the first time – he wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

– Mike Cooney