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Parasiliti: Opposites attract with effort

March 24, 2013|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Bob Parasiliti
Joe Crocetta

Opposites detract.

OK, so there is this longstanding belief that they actually attract, like in love and relationships, but usually that magnetism tends to repel.

There are cases where two things are so opposite, they find themselves on the other side of the circle, staring each other in the eye.

A couple of those crossed paths over the last week. They were so different, there is no way they could be linked, unless you are reaching for a column.

The only thing they have in common is timing.

Last weekend, if you were up for a literary marathon, you met Aaron Miller and spent time walking 26.2 miles in his remarkable shoes.

And if you had real endurance, you spent a few days reading about the Hagerstown Community College men’s basketball team as it prepared to travel halfway across the country to compete last Monday in the NJCAA Division I tournament for the first time since 1994.

Both are sports in nature, but their sagas had a little more. Each had man vs. the world overtones.

Miller’s incredible story is totally about someone beating odds that even Vegas wouldn’t touch.

The North Hagerstown junior spent most of his young life preparing for the day he could play high school football. When it came time, life flagged him with a delay of game and called a monumental timeout.

Miller was diagnosed with leukemia during the preseason and, at the time, was four days from death. Somehow — with a combination of positive thoughts, a legion of praying believers, a massive support group and some pretty good genetics — he beat the cancer into remission in five months.

In 5 1/2 months, he was back attending school and, by the sixth month, he was playing on the Hubs’ basketball team and training to return to the football field.

And all along the way, this humble, well-grounded, 17-year-old boy proved you can fight the good fight without feeling sorry for yourself and while caring for others.

In the end, everyone came out a winner.

Meanwhile, HCC was authoring a six-month chapter of its own. The Hawks entitled it “The Journey.”

It was a story about a basketball team that played well enough to win 22 of its first 24 games without really playing well. Everything changed once the Hawks lost their final two games of the regular season.

It was the wakeup call HCC needed. It was something like getting splashed in the face with a bucket of ice water.

In the course of a week, HCC dismantled its beliefs in Six Million Dollar Man style. They were rebuilt and made better.

The more cohesive Hawks came together in time to win the Maryland JuCo, Region XX and District 3 tournament titles to earn that coveted trip to Hutchinson, Kan. It was a trip that was both life enhancing and life changing for all involved. It validated all the work of the past, while opening doors to the future.

In the end, HCC lost its opening game to Lee College, abruptly applying the brakes to “The Journey.”

These are two very, very different stories, yet they each have a level of being a matter of life and death.

And it is also a matter of death and life.

For Miller, it was the start of the ultimate test he will face forever. He showed the power of perseverance and drive to regain a dream. Yet, the possibility of death hovers in the background, even though he’s too busy living for today and inspiring many.

For the Hawks, it was a long battle to reach an ultimate goal, only to have it end all too quickly. It was an abrupt end to a milestone season, but it was a foundation for the future for the players and the HCC program.

In the fall, flowers die. In the spring, they sprout again.

Both stories serve as reminders that the life of a new opportunity starts with the death of an old situation.

Life and death. Old and new. Winning and losing.

They are all opposites, but Aaron Miller and HCC prove there is something magnetically attractive about always giving an effort.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or bobp@herald-mail.com.

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