BERWICK, N.S. – Sometimes in the sporting world things happen that transcend sports and show what the high school sport experience is all about.
Relationships are built and discoveries made that make sports a wonderful and valuable learning experience where young people grow and develop – not just as athletes, but as people.
This story is about an experience that happened to Central Kings Rural High School senior boys basketball point guard Nathan Parnell when his team played in the Shelburne Basketball tournament.
The following is a story written by Nathan Parnell:
It all started at our opening tournament. We’d just lost our game against Lockeport, so at the end of the game like we always do, we lined up and shook each player’s and coach’s hand from the rival team.
As I walked down, congratulating the other team, there was an older man who shook my hand and said, “you’re a real great player.”
I smiled and nodded and said thank you. After that I went into the stands and said to my mom, “man I just had such a bad shooting night, I played terrible.”
The older man happened to be by the stands and said that I was awesome and that I was a great player – he kept saying it. It meant a lot to me, so I went down and started to talk with the man. He said he was looking forward to playing us again in the Shelburne tournament next week.
We continued to talk and it felt like we’d known each other for years. It was like an instant connection. We shook hands once more and then we each left. He also said he loved my leadership and jokingly commented that he would’ve recruited me for his basketball team if I weren’t in Grade 12.
When the Shelburne tournament finally arrived, I was heading into the game against Lockeport when I saw the man – we waved and said hello.
We ended up losing the game against Lockeport, but the man and I started talking again, and I found out his name is Walter Nickerson.
The next day we played West Kings and won the game. When I was heading into the locker room at the end of the game, I saw Walter in the stands and he was cheering me on. It was an incredible feeling, so when the game was all over Walter wanted to talk to me again for one last time.
I sat down and he looked at me and said, “I probably won’t see you again so I want to give you this.”
He gave me a medal – now at the moment I was shocked because this looked like something that means a lot to him and turns out it did.
The medal he gave me was representing how many paddling races he won – over 50 elimination first-place finishes. He really wanted me to have it, so I took it and was speechless.
I felt so honoured to be given this medal, because to me it’s about more than basketball.
We kept talking about what it was like when he paddled, and about the races – it turns out he was the first and only 70-year-old to win one of these.
Since that day, I bring the medal to every single one of my games and kiss the front of it for good luck. It’s something I’ll hold on to and cherish forever.
Walter and I sure shared our moments together for the short time we knew each other, and I hope to see him again.