Winning on and off the field: A small gesture with a big impact


HANCOCK, Mich. (WJMN) — It all started with a player for the Hancock Bulldogs in the Upper Peninsula interacting with a young Iron Mountain fan.

Then, an email sent to the Hancock superintendent that returned the kindness.

“It was really interesting. This was the week after the game actually happened and I got an email and the email started out with, ‘I was looking for the principal or the athletic director, but I just wanted to tell you something about what I witnessed at a game the other night,'” Superintendent Steve Patchin recalled. “Well, anytime something starts out like that, you wonder, OK, well, what’s next?”

But what the email went on to describe was a touching moment:

“As we were leaving the stadium, after the game, a player from your team, #60, was walking out in front of us. I yelled for him, he turned around and my son approached him. My son showed him his cleats, and his helmet and told him how fast he can run. He told him he’s going to do play football when he’s big.”

QUOTE FROM THE EMAIL TO Superintendent Patchin

“It was just after the game and we have our typical meeting, talk about the game and what’s coming up the next week,” Rudy Bekkala, No. 60 for the Hancock Bulldogs football team, said. “I talked to my parents after the game and as I was walking out, a little boy came up to me, said, ‘Hey, what’s up?’ I just talked to him for a little bit. I really didn’t think much of it. But at the time, but after I guess, meant a lot more to him than it did to me.”

“And your player spoke to him with respect and kindness. He asked him questions and laughed with my son. They gave each other a few high fives and let me tell you, Sam’s entire week was made. 3 days later, he is still talking about #60.”


“My mom told me about it after the game, ‘Oh, that was really nice that you did that or whatever,’ but when I heard about it the next week, I was kind of surprised because I didn’t think anything of it for the whole weekend,” Bekkala said. “I just kind of went about my life and everything was fine, and then I got that email and I was kind of surprised what she said and how much of an impact it made on Sam.”

“We have moments in our lives, in sports and all sorts of things, situations where if we take a minute to pay attention to somebody, especially our youth, that thing could be so meaningful, because in the moment when you’re having so much stuff going on, you take the time to give them that moment to them, that means so much,” Patchin said. “We can talk about football and sports about how important it is. It’s important to play, but it’s also important to inspire others to play, and this was one of those moments. I mean, fewer and fewer kids are getting into athletics right now. But moments like this are going to encourage more kids to play and more kids to give back. And that’s why it was so special.”

“My husband and I are so unbelievably impressed with the compassion #60 showed. What a stand-up and honorable young man he is. We are grateful for him and his gentleness with our son, even annoying but to us, it meant a whole lot. Cheering on you from Iron Mountain.”


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