Sometimes, Grace Shines Through It All.

Posted on February 18, 2013


cooney pic

I’m looking at my fingers idle on my keyboard; thoughts fragmented in my head.

They say opportunity is when luck meets preparation. It is a moment–no, a fraction of a moment—when what you’ve done to better yourself collides with a particular set of applicable circumstances.

I had a moment of pride this morning, in seeing and sharing a picture that surfaced on Facebook. A picture that, in its most simplest form, is that moment.

My attempts at writing my first full-length book come in fits and starts, but generally speaking it approaches the concept of “legacy.” I’ve come to terms with the fact that I most likely won’t change the world in any Mandela or Ghandi kind of way. That’s fine, however, that doesn’t mean I can’t leave a legacy in the wake of this life I have. The crux of the writing is simply, “how?”

My dad often talks of my teaching having an exponentially larger impact on society than he has ever had. And I appreciate that. Though I nod my head in agreement, I still feel void. Fodder for a book, I suppose.

I talk of this ‘moment’ as some kind of life defining entity, and that’s not necessarily the case. For example, my friend Leo of Mariah’s Challenge certainly had a moment that altered his life plan; a set of unforeseen circumstances arose and the character he practiced in his life, allowed him to seize the opportunity. That’s not always the case. Often times these moments are small and go unnoticed. Either way, these moments create a legacy—as if throwing bread in a river for someone downstream.

This morning’s picture brought that to light.

Recently, the local Butte Central girls basketball team played their rival, Anaconda High. If you’re not from this area, this continues to be a rival in the truest sense of the word.

I was not at the game, so I’ll leave the description to the skilled writers at

Anaconda’s Kiernan Gallahger had slipped to the floor and rolled her ankle. She fell to the ground awkwardly, then struggled to walk it off. When it became obvious she wasn’t going to make it, Butte Central’s Mariah Cooney bent over, picked Gallagher up into her arms without hesitation and walked her to the Copperhead bench.

The moment.

“Character is something that you do when no one is watching,” but what happens when the world is watching? We call it courage, sportsmanship, bravery, strength, leadership. Any of which would sum up this picture, and any of which would sum up this young lady.

Without reservation, I can say I remember every one of my students. Mariah was a happy-go-lucky 5th grader; an intelligent student that almost bounced rather than walked. Her blonde ponytail always swinging back and forth with each stride;  just a shorter version of what you’ll see on the vball or bball courts now.  Back then, she possessed all the traits that make this photo, well, not very surprising to me. In fact, I’m willing to bet there wasn’t really another option but to carry Kiernan off the court.

Mariah, you’ve done good on yourself, your team, your sport, your family. You deserved that applause from the crowd. I’m proud of you and proud for you. If there’s anything that your old teacher can tell you, is to continue to be a leader in all aspects of your life. We need more of you.

…and go get that state title. That’s the other thing I can tell you.

[picture is the property of Blake Hempstead at

Posted in: Think