Teary-eyed alert: you've been warned
I just got back from watching my daughter's basketball team triumphantly figure out how to win a game and ran into this story from one of my favorite reads, meeciteewurkor from Mah Beloved Home State.
You must read this, and if you don't get choked up, you have no heart.
At a time when youth sports are too often tainted by overzealous parents or callous coaches, Cylie Pastian provides a ray of hope.
You could argue that the fifth-grader from De Smet was the most valuable player of the 16th annual Girls Tri-State Basketball Tournament, which ended Saturday after filling Sioux Falls gyms with 98 teams from five states.
Cylie didn't make a field goal, grab a rebound, dish off an assist or record a steal for the Bulldogs, who finished fourth in their section.
But the 11-year-old fired up free throws with enough care and consistency to make Shaquille O'Neal look like a rec league dropout.
More importantly, she continued to teach her teammates - and every opponent they face - that sports still can play a positive role in shaping the way we live.
Two years ago, Cylie was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma - which led to extended chemotherapy and the removal of part of her right femur.
Her doctors say she can't have physical contact. But it was always her dream to play basketball.
So her coaches devised a plan: Every time one of the De Smet players is fouled and is awarded free throws, Cylie comes in to shoot for them.
Whether she makes or misses, the whistle blows and she comes out of the game to resume her role as scorekeeper. The other team is awarded the ball, no matter who gathers the rebound.
According to her coaches, Doug Osthus and Jennifer Pommer, no opposing coach ever has complained. For a game at least, the hypercompetitive culture of youth athletics is nowhere to be found.
"When you think what Cylie must have gone through, all that other stuff just fades away," Osthus says. "It basically teaches you that when push comes to shove, people put things in perspective. I can't think of one problem that we've had."
As for Cylie, she works on her free throws at every practice, and she has a goal for her basketball career.
"I want to play at South Dakota State," she tells you.
Please read the entire story.
Everyone involved in this story has behaved like a champion. God bless them.