What happened after title win is bigger than sports
Shortly after the final horn sounded and Bethlehem Catholic’s girls’ basketball team celebrated its PIAA State Class 4A championship game victory over Villa Maria, the Hawks and the Victors shook hands, but what happened next caused onlookers pause.
As Becahi coach Jose Medina told it, Villa Maria coach Doug Chuzie suggested the two teams pray, and that since the Hawks won, Medina should lead the prayer.
As everyone formed a circle in front of the Villa Maria bench and grabbed hands, Medina began giving thanks for the playing environment, for the families of players and coaches, for the fact there were no injuries during the game, and for the college choices the graduates will be making.
“Their coach, what a class act he is,” Medina said. “At the end of the day, what better stage to send that message. We glorify God in all we do. We love and played a fierce, competitive game. We know we’re vessels for the Lord.”
Afterward, both teams were all hugs and smiles for each other, and that, Medina said, was a wonderful sight to see.
Another wonderful sight to see for Medina was his pastor, Gerry Hartman of El Shaddai Ministries, in the stands, as he has been for almost every game, if not every game the Hawks have played since Medina began coaching at Bethlehem Catholic.
“He is a mentor to me, a father figure to me, and a godsend to my family and me,” said Medina. “At every game I can look over my shoulder and catch a glimpse of him, and it is calming to me. He sits close enough, and we have our Dunkin’ Donuts days when he might say, ‘I heard you get a little elevated here.’ We have a great relationship, and he does things to support others too.”
On this particular day, Hartman drove Medina’s mother and wife, Lynette, who is due to give birth any day, to the Giant Center in Hershey for the state championship game.
The notion of support carries over to the team in the sense that Becahi’s junior varsity unit is a huge contributor to the success of the varsity squad.
“For us, coming into that game, we kept hearing about Villa Maria’s experience, and how they had been there in 2009, 2010, and 2011. They were nationally ranked, and we heard about that,” Medina said. “Our second unit is young, fast, they have a lot of energy, and they’ve been getting our varsity unit ready all year. Our practices are harder than the games we play, and they work so hard to push the girls in front of them.”
Medina told his players the first two minutes of Thursday’s game would be hard, but that their bodies were trained and conditioned to handle it.
“We really believed that,” said Medina.
The Hawks got to the arena early, providing enough time for them to walk around and absorb it all before game time.
“When you have girls who want to play and you have girls who get hit hard, it develops a culture and a mind set,” Medina said. “We recruit through our play, and people are drawn to that.”
Drawn to something bigger than themselves.