Wafa Shahid, Arizona State University Journalism Student
Every week, millions of people watch high school sports, college sports, and professional sports. We watch amazing contests! We watch players who have spent countless hours in training stretch their skills to the limits.
It is a thrill, but notice the word ‘Watch.’ Most of us have been nudged out of these activities before high school…sometimes even before junior high. Why? Is participation limited to the most skilled? Is it all about ‘winning?’ Making leaps and bounds across the grassy field, a young lacrosse player progressed toward the guarded goal. Pads strapped tightly to his shoulders and forearms, beads of sweat glistening beneath his Arrowhead Warrior helmet, nothing was going through his head and pulsing through his veins except: WIN. It was his time to shine. It was his time to show the world how much heart it took each day to be him.
Max Marangella, 12, scored that goal. He scored a goal for the Arrowhead Warriors in the final lacrosse game of the season and he also scored a goal in a larger game…in a game called life.
Max was born with three major congenital defects: one of the heart (Tetralogy of Fallot and a dilated aorta), a connective tissue disorder, and Congenital Short Gut, meaning he lacked the intestinal length of a typical newborn. These have resulted in a total of forty-one surgeries, with more in the future. Running even the length of several yards creates a huge strain on his body.
During the 2013 season, the Arrowhead Warriors participated in a program called Kids Playing for Kids. The team adopted Max with open arms. Max and his teammates consistently demonstrated that winning is more than just how many goals you can score. It is more than numbers on a scoreboard. Winning is about sportsmanship, determination and giving everything one has when participating. Ultimately, those three characteristics are what transforms a ‘winner’ into a ‘champion.’
“I want to promote service before self. I want to teach the kids about life,” said Coach Tav. He is the head coach of the Arrowhead Warriors and founder of Kids Playing for Kids. Judging by the conduct shown on the field, he has achieved his goal.
Due to Max’s heart condition, he can’t run around the field for very long. As a result, he is given the opportunity to score a goal without the opposing team pursuing him The opposing team and the Arrowhead Warriors come together to cheer Max on in every game as he attempts to score a goal.
“ Max shows the team that everyone has a different skill-set. He shows them what character and ‘heart’ really are,” Coach Tav said.
Max’s parents, the Marangella’s, notice that playing lacrosse has not only given him the opportunity to play with a welcoming group of peers, it has also helped improve Max’s hand-eye coordination.
“It’s a huge morale booster. It physically helps him. I’d like to see him continue lacrosse,” Patricia Marangella, Max’s mother said.
“You see these boys,” Max says, pointing to his teammates. “I love these boys! Playing sports with them is my pride and joy…aside from eating meat,” Max said with a grin.
“Max’s participation with the Arrowhead Warriors lacrosse team is a tribute to the Golden Rule because it has taught everyone humility and the need to be kind to someone regardless of their ability,” said Patricia Marangella. “There is beauty in everyone and everyone should be treated with the same acknowledgement of that beauty,”
Max has taught the Warriors how important it is to treat others the same way one would like to be treated. He has brought them closer together. Playing with Max has instilled in their hearts a fiery sense of perseverance toward a goal larger than just a winning score. The Arrowhead Warriors have learned and practiced a deeper meaning of sportsmanship.
- How do the Arrowhead Warriors enrich Max’s life?
- Speculate what are some of the additional challenges Max faces in life besides the physical ones.
3 Coach Tav feels winning is about sportsmanship, determination and giving everything one has when participating. He believes those three characteristics are what creates a champion. Give three examples of ‘winners’ and decide if they are also champions by that definition.
- Give some ideas of how high school athletics could continue to be competitive, but also include more opportunities for participants to play just for the enjoyment of participation and the physical activity.
- Knowing what you know about Max’s health issues, why might “eating meat” be such a “pride and joy” for Max?