Lilly Barnett is a story we share, an image that inspires us all

September 11, 2018

Keeping composure - I caught it as I lost it down in Delmar Friday night, sitting on the bench before the football game. I believe it was Ken Dunning who said to me: “You know you’re getting old, Fredman, when your camera has a cane.” But I was scanning the landscape like a German submarine commander, a giant scope supported by a pika pole, when the Cape cheerleaders walked on by like a Dionne Warwick song. And I saw it, captured a subtle yet powerful image of Lilly Barnett, walking with her team. Lilly is forever a community kid, catastrophically injured in a car accident July 26, 2011, and Lilly has been “working her way back to you, babe” ever since. There have been so many challenges and great people helping Lilly get back. A quiet and ordinary moment, lots of colors, and the Cape band played soul music across the field for Lilly and all of us. I fought off Dick Vermeil syndrome – old coaches who cry easily because we see it and feel it. Those moments are powerful and require no words; just a still image tells the story.

A hero snaps back - I find my heroes and make my calls, having once unsuccessfully pursued a story and had a big, strong, wild guy get in my face, “Hero? I ain’t no freaking hero! I’m not telling you anything!” “That’s fine, dude,” I said. “But here’s the deal. You are a hero in my eyes, and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. You don’t want to talk? I am down with that, but in my old eyes, you’re a hero and that is most emphatically that!” He looked at me and said, “Damn, man, you’re crazier than I am.”

Race til you ralph - I watched six separate cross country races Sept. 8 at Killens Pond, part of the Lake Forest Invitational cross country carnival. And there were a record number of vomiters who waited until the finish line to fight it off with only seconds left to run. One girl just dropped to her knees in the JV race as Cape’s Erin Cannon was running by. Erin slowed and showed concern. I know she considered stopping. It was a moment of competitor compassion. Erin crossed the finish line, and the girl got up and finished behind her. Trust me, not all athletes can push themselves to the point of physical sickness. Growling doesn’t make you tough, but getting up after it does.

Two predictions - Last column I predicted that the Cape girls’ cross country team would be a surprise at the start of the season. At the Sept. 8 carnival, they won the Varsity A Lake Forest Invitational championship. The top seven runners were Olivia Brozefsky, Aya Daisey, Lindsay Rambo, Mia Neubling, Elizabeth Melson, Hadley Rhue and Caroline Maull. Cape also won the JV team title behind Taylor Johnson, Meredith Lockwood, Amaya Daisey, Erin Cannon, Sawyer Walker and Emily Uffelman. I also predicted that Delaware State football would have a tough time on the road at St. Francis of Loretto. The Red Flash defeated the Hornets 45-14. Delaware State will play at Western Michigan Saturday, Sept. 15, and that will be no picnic. The Broncos have lost to Syracuse and Michigan, while the Hornets lost to Buffalo and St. Francis.

Snippets - Sussex Academy played its first varsity hockey game Sept. 6 and defeated Laurel 4-3. Cape opens at home Tuesday, Sept. 11, with Dover. Dover lost at Tower Hill Sept. 7 by a score of 2-1. Dover upset Cape last season in the opening game of the season 2-1 on the way to a 13-2 season. Annie Judge scored her first collegiate goal for Temple in a 6-2 loss to Kent State. Annie has played her way into the starting lineup as a midfielder. More expansive cross country coverage, and road racing results and photos will appear in the Friday edition of the Cape Gazette. The referees and officials control the rules of the game and the venue at all levels of sports. Serena Williams lost her cool at the U.S. Open final and cost herself a point, then a game, but 20-year-old Naomi Osaka beat her in straight sets 6-2, 6-4 to win $3.5 million. I’m not relating to any of it. Go on now, git!