Sea Foam: Local teams show sportsmanship goes beyond the football field

Thanks to Bill Bender of Hilton Head Island for sharing his story of a special high school football game.

'Two Winners'

By Bill Bender

As a former college football player and lifetime fan and student of the game, I witnessed something I have never seen before during the football game between Hilton Head Island High and Battery Creek High schools Oct. 22.

What I saw were two winners in the game and I am not referring to the teams and scores displayed on the scoreboard at the end of the game.

The "winners" I am writing about were two special players from Hilton Head Island High and Battery Creek High, respectively.

I will first address the winner from Hilton Head. This particular player, Chip Mullen, had a disability, which I understand to be Down syndrome. Chip is a winner because his apparent love of the game allowed him to overcome his handicaps and endure the long practices over the length of the season and actually participate in the game.

When the Hilton Head coaching staff alerted Chip that he was "going in," his body language screamed excitement. As he lined up at the left end position, one almost could feel his energy and enthusiasm to get downfield and block someone. Chip is a winner. Coach Tim Singleton and his staff are to be complimented for enabling Chip to be a part of the team, participate and make contributions.

The other winner in the game was a young man from Battery Creek High who was playing the right cornerback position. His name is Darien Williams. Darien's actions late in the game, a loss on the scoreboard for Battery Creek, proved that he is a winner and much more.

Let me explain.

Darien, at his right cornerback position, lined up across from Chip. At the snap of the ball, it was apparent that Chip had been instructed to block the man in front of him. When the signal was called, he moved across the line and engaged Darien in an embracing block. The matchup between Chip and Darien continued for three consecutive plays.

Darien's reaction was what clearly defined him as a winner. I do not know if he had been coached or advised about the Hilton Head player, but his actions clearly demonstrated the highest degree of maturity, compassion, fair play, sportsmanship and understanding. He did not aggressively push the Hilton Head player down or away. He did not complain to the referee that he was being held. What he did was allow the Hilton Head player to stay engaged until the whistle blew and then eased away.

Battery Creek Coach Carlos Cave and his staff should be complimented for providing the atmosphere and guidance that foster these attributes and demonstrated performance.

This action more than likely gave Chip a lifetime of memories.

I feel that Darien's actions are a credit to him, his family, his coach and Battery Creek High.

This young man from Battery Creek is a winner in my book and if he continues to demonstrate the attributes described above he will be a winner the rest of his life.

With players and coaching staffs as fine as this, good things will come to these two high school programs.