Monday, June 13, 2005


Now and then a story comes along that shakes me to my core in a good way. One reads so much of the evil and the negative in this world, that we forget the triumphs and the miracles that are as prominent and around us each and every day. Ryan Belflower, the subject of this article, is an example of just such a miracle. And this comes along when more than ever, I was needing a reminder.

The chant began late in the fourth quarter in the basketball gym at Clovis East High. The students started it first, clapping their hands in unison and pounding the bleachers with their feet. It didn't take long for the parents to pick it up, too. The noise grew until the whole gym seemed to shake. "We want Ryno. We want Ryno."

Pacing the sideline, coach Tim Amundsen felt himself getting goose bumps. Less than 4 minutes remained in the game, and Clovis East was winning comfortably over rival Buchanan High. Now Amundsen had a decision to make.

It was senior night, the last time Ryan Belflower would wear his home uniform. Everyone in the gym knew his story.

Ryan was a special education student who would do anything to fit in and worked tirelessly to make that happen. His basketball career began as a ninth grader passing out balls to the girls' team. Then he hooked on with the boys' team, getting there every morning at 6:30, helping out in drills, running the practice clock and cleaning up afterward.

Now, he sat proudly on the sideline in his own white No. 12 uniform.

The crowd wanted him in the game. Amundsen wanted him in, too. But he was also afraid the slightly built 18-year-old might get hurt.

Amundsen considered all this as he walked toward Ryan and patted him on the shoulder. Off came the warmup jacket, the buzzer blew and Ryan kind of half hopped, half ran onto the court, his left leg trailing slightly at an odd angle.

The noise was deafening as he ran out on the court.

In the stands, Justin Belflower was near tears. A few years earlier, he was a jock at Clovis East, one of those big men on campus. He knew how hard his kid brother had worked for this moment.

"If you had said four years ago he'd play in a varsity basketball game, I'd say stop lying because it will never happen," Justin said.

On this afternoon in February, it did.

And Clovis East would never be the same.

After reading this article, hopefully none of us will be the same either. May we remember to look harder and pay attention to those miracles that surround us each day.


At 12:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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