Friday, March 7, 2014

30/30: The Greatest Event I've Ever Seen Live

For those of you who may not know. I am not a youngster at this point in my life. My 54 years have been filled with blessings and adventures, and the list of things I have been a witness to is quite long. So today's 30/30 Vision Blog Challenge prompt- What's the greatest event (sporting, concerts, theater, etc.) you have ever seen in person? - cover a great deal of ground. Despite that, it was actually a fairly easy choice.

I have attended lots of sporting events in my time, and a number of them stand out as exciting. I was in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium the night Hank Aaron hit his 700th career home run. I was also there the night Dale Murphy his a pinch hit home run to beat Doc Gooden and the Mets. I saw James Worthy, Michael Jordan, Danny Manning and Dominique Wilkins all play basketball in high school. I attended lots of UNC Tar Heel basketball and football games. I saw all-time basketball greats David Thompson, Julius Erving and Billy Cunningham play in person. I sat with the players wives at a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. I have been to NCAA basketball tournament games and a couple of football bowl games The list goes on and on. But none of them were the best.

There have also been many concerts in my past, including some absolute classics! John Denver. Chicago. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I saw Fleetwood Mac open for the Eagles. I saw Billy Joel open for the Beach Boys, and I saw him share a stage with Elton John as well. I saw dc Talk open for Michael W. Smith, and Jars of Clay open for dc Talk! And I have seen the event that is Jimmy Buffett three freakin' times!  I have seen more than my share of artists, bands and festivals. They were all great experiences. But none of them top my list either.

Over the years I was fortunate enough to see nearly 30 shows on Broadway through my many visits to NYC.  All but Cats were wonderful. I sat next to Michael Keaton at The Lion King. And seeing Les Miserables from the front row...TWICE!...was more than amazing!  But even so...that's not the winner.

The winner was a sporting event- but not one that you might expect. I was working as the youth pastor at Springfield Friends Meeting in 1992. The North Carolina High School Athletic Association was holding the final rounds of its state wrestling tournament in the Greensboro Coliseum, and I attended. One of my guys, Jeremy Godwin, was a high school senior and a heavyweight wrestler- and I was there to support him. Jeremy won his way into the final match. He would be facing the defending state champion. I was sitting with his family and friends, and we had quite a little cheering section. The match began, and while Jeremy was wrestling well he was behind by a couple of points after the first 2 periods. He started the final period at a disadvantage, and as time was running out it seemed all was lost. But what happened next I will never forget. His family and friends began to get very loud, imploring Jeremy to escape and find some way to win. I don't know that our cheers and screams had any impact. I don't even know if he could really hear the crowd. But it was one of those moments where we felt like we were going to make difference- so we kept yelling. And suddenly...miraculously...Jeremy slipped out from his opponent's hold and flipped the match completely. In the blink of an eye, Jeremy had his opponent down. But he was still behind on points with just seconds remaining. And then (in real time this all happened in mere seconds) as the crowd went absolutely insane, Jeremy pinned his opponent to snatch a state championship from the jaws of defeat. To steal a line from the great Jack Buck, I couldn't believe what I had just seen! We were thrilled and we were totally exhausted. And not a single one of us could actually explain what had just happened.

Why is this number one? It's really difficult to express the emotion of that evening. The entire thing took a little over 10 minutes; the part I will never forget lasted about 15 seconds. I guess it was the passion and the energy of the crowd, coupled with the sudden and spectacular turn-around and topped off by the amazing accomplishment of my good friend Jeremy (we still text) that made it so memorable. It was definitely a You Had To Be There moment. And I was. It doesn't get any better than that...


  1. Anonymous3/07/2014

    Wow Carl. It's an honor. It was quite a memorable event. Jeremy

    1. Thanks buddy- but the honor was all mine!


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