Tonawanda News — This commentary is a day later than planned but when given the opportunity to publish former Gazette sports editor Bill Wolcott’s wonderful thoughts on the late baseball player, coach and manager Don Zimmer upon his passing, I opted to let Bill go first.
On Thursday, I was honored to be an invited guest to the Kiwanis annual sports award luncheon at Niagara Falls High School, where several teams, coaches and individual athletes were deservingly honored for their accomplishments in the past academic year.
A personal appointment forced me to leave a little early, but I want to take this moment to congratulate every honoree as well as salute the Kiwanis for their fine community service.
I had the honor of sitting next to a former U.S. Marine at the luncheon. Being the day before the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, we did make mention of it and how so few survivors of that terrible but important day are left to share their tales firsthand.
It got me thinking about a message that young athletes, that all of us, should keep in mind.
Because they wore their olive drab uniforms, you get to don your colorful jerseys.
Because they put on their helmets, which weren’t necessarily bulletproof, you get to wear your helmet or mask or cap.
Because they had to live with almost daily hostile fire heading in their direction, you get to sacrifice your body to block that kick or shot.
Because even while knowing it might be their last mission they still carried on, you get to choose your future path. And then change it.
Because they took on one of the most critical events in modern world history, we get to live in a world where, for better or for worse, we can follow our teams as if it was as large as life itself.