Character at a young age

God 1st; Defense 2nd! Ellender wins Class 4A State Title
March 7, 2017
McGuire showcases himself at Combine
March 7, 2017
God 1st; Defense 2nd! Ellender wins Class 4A State Title
March 7, 2017
McGuire showcases himself at Combine
March 7, 2017

A lot of people around the community know that I am heavily involved in youth sports.

Hell, if I’m not at work or asleep, then nine times out of 10, I am coaching or spending time doing something that’s involved with it in some kind of way.

In the fall, I coach Biddy Basketball. Once the regular season ends, my buddies and I coach All-Stars, which lasts from the winter and into the spring.

In the summer, we coach AAU and are coaches with the South Lafourche Flash.

It’s a lot of work. It’s quite a time consuming chore to get young men better at a sport while also being patient to the fact that they’re young kids who are still growing physically and emotionally.

Most days it’s fun. But there are some days, yes, where I wonder why in the heck I am doing what I am doing – dedicating nights and weekends away from home to volunteer for a cause.

This weekend, I got a shining example of why everyone in the “Biddy Family” does what we do for those kids. I got my reminder from a kid on our U8 All-Star Team.

His story is one I’d be honored to share with you all today in this week’s Casey’s Corner column, because we need a lot of prayer power right now in our basketball locker room.

Over the Mardi Gras break, one of my players had a medical scare that will change his life forever.

His name is Sawyer Wells. He’s in the third grade.

Sawyer is a budding athlete who competes in several sports. He’s got a lot of size for a kid his age, and he’s getting more and more coordinated, which is allowing him to be more and more impactful on the court when it’s his time to play.

There was no Biddy Basketball over the Mardi Gras holiday and, obviously, there was no school last week because of the parades.

But unlike some of the other kids on our team, Sawyer didn’t get much time to relax. This holiday will be one he will remember for the rest of his life for a lot of reasons – some good and some bad. I will detail both in this piece.

Sometime during the break, Sawyer took a fall while riding a bicycle.

After the fall, he had blood in his urine, which prompted an immediate trip for medical care.

Without going into an insane amount of detail, doctors discovered that Sawyer has something wrong with his kidneys – an ailment that will require him to have a pretty large surgery over the summer.

He was in the hospital a couple days while doctors ran a litany of tests to find out what the heck was going on.

Long story short, he has a slight deformity which is causing one of his kidneys to work much harder than the other to process fluids throughout his body. He is OK right now, but he still has a lot of work to do in the coming months to be fully out of the woods.

While Sawyer was in the hospital, our basketball team tried as best we could to stay focused.

Kids are curious by nature, and Sawyer is one of the more well-liked guys on our team. It was hard to juggle optimism and realism while explaining to the guys what was going on with one of their brothers.

At the end of practice on Wednesday, we got together, huddled up and prayed together, asking for healing and that Sawyer may continue to be the really cool little dude that he is.

This weekend, we got that prayer answered.

We expected Sawyer to be out this past weekend as we competed in the Regional Tournament at Lisa Park Gym.

But through some fast healing, a quick change in diet and a special padded shirt placed under his uniform, he was able to play.

And he found a way to have a flare for the dramatic – a moment we will all remember for a while in my circle of friends.

Down 2 in the final seconds of an elimination game against St. Bernard, Sawyer got fouled.

He calmly banked in the first free throw and then rattled home the second one to make it a tie game.

Then, he got a steal, which set up another foul and the eventual game-winning points for our team.

From the hospital to the locker room hero – all in 48 hours.

We didn’t win Regionals. We lost our next game after that win against St. Bernard, dropping a tough, hard-fought game against a good Raceland club.

But as I drove back home, none of that much mattered.

A kid that we felt so much hurt for in the past week was now whole again.

And to me, that’s as much of a win as anyone can ever get in a basketball setting.

Friends, keep praying for the Wells family, as Sawyer will get operated on after school lets out.

But we know he will be OK through it all.

We know that this time next year, he will be back on the floor with us again.

This young one has rare character – even at a young age. •

Sawyer Wells

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