For Jillian Kilmer and others, a moment makes a game more than just a game

There are times when sports become more than just sports.
One such moment happened last night at St. Paul Catholic High School. The St. Paul girls basketball team was hosting its Senior Night against Derby. At one point, senior Jillian Kilmer was one of the starters who would take the floor.
An ACL injury robbed Kilmer of her senior season, but not of a great moment on Senior Night. Kilmer, who hadn’t played since the David T. Rybczyk Memorial Tournament in Plainville this past December, started against Derby and the Lady Raiders graciously let her score, according to an account on The Bristol Press website. The Falcons reciprocated the basket in a great gesture of sportsmanship that I’m sure wasn’t lost on anyone in attendance at the gym on Maltby Street last night.
It’s a great gesture like this that shows there’s more to sports than just success and statistics.
I got to cover another moment like this when I was a sports reporter for The Register Citizen in Torrington, and it was a moment I’ll never forget.
On Sept. 25, 2009, Wolcott Tech football hosted Avon in a one-sided affair. The final score was 49-6 Avon, but don’t think for a second that coach Brett Quinion looked to rub it in Tech’s face.
As a matter of fact, Quinion helped put together a poignant moment that ended up being talked about around the country. Wolcott Tech 17-year-old senior Nick Reardon had just been diagnosed with cancer, and this was his final game. Quinion called a timeout and talked to Tech coach Jamie Coty.
The plan was simple…give Reardon the ball and let him score. Tech gave the ball to Reardon on a handoff, and he got an escort to the end zone, 83 yards away, for a touchdown (I had the touchdown length wrong in my original story, and I’ll cop to that).
Quinion said after the game: “It’s our pleasure. It’s awful what the kid’s going through.”
Coty was certainly touched by the gesture.
“I got nothing but praise and respect for (Avon’s) coaching staff,” Coty said. “(Quinion) called a timeout and said let’s get that kid a touchdown. That meant a lot to our program.”
It was such an amazing moment to be a part of, and it transcended the game. 
Kilmer’s basket was another great display of sportsmanship, and both of these moments show that there’s more to a game than wins or losses.
Here’s my full story on Reardon. 
For photos from Kilmer’s great moment, go here.
(The photos are on page 4 of 10 and were taken by T.J. Dowling)

Additional comment: In T.J’s photos, you can see the pure joy on the face of not only Kilmer, but her teammates. I saw the same thing when Reardon scored his touchdown in 2009. That’s what sports are all about. Kilmer won’t get her senior season back, but she has that moment with her teammates and her family that she can cherish forever.
In January 2010, Reardon became cancer-free.