We call it a miracle when the unbelievable happens. It’s not that we cannot believe it could happen; it’s that it is unimaginable given the moment in time. College sports has a litany of miracle plays, games, teams to call its own, and for inspiration, an athlete can turn to these almost impossible stories and catch the vision that anything can be accomplished.
Let’s flashback to the 1983 Wolfpack basketball team under the leadership of fabled coach Jimmy Valvano. Thirty-five years ago this spring, this miracle team had a miracle season with miracle games and a miraculous ending—an NCAA Division I Championship.
On that now-legendary evening, Dereck Whittenburg launches a long air ball in what appears to be a desperation shot in the final seconds of the tied game. Lorenzo Charles, at the right place at the right time, catches the ball and jams it through the hoop at the buzzer. A miracle two-point last-second shot seals the win for the underdog team. The moment stuns the crowd, the players, the commentators. Then the shocked silence gives way to wild cheers. All these years later, the replay still has the power to amaze viewers. The video recap culminates with a beloved coach running to the court, big smile and eyes shining, seeking someone to hug. NC State 54. Houston 52. Game over. Miracle acknowledged.
That season, NC State arrived at the tournament with little chance of advancing but became that year's Cinderella team. The team’s tournament play featured nine must-win games in a row. Seven of these wins happened with the team coming from behind in the last minute of play. Unbelievable. The team won against soon-to-be legendary players like Michael Jordan and three-time College Player of the Year Ralph Sampson. Unimaginable. And when this Wolfpack made it to the final game, they faced an invincible Cougars team nicknamed Phi Slama Jama, front-lined by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Unprecedented. But they did the incredible. They won.
Miracles do happen. Believers look in the scriptures and read again to recapture the power of what can be. A young boy agrees to give his loaves and fishes to a group of apostles because a crowd needed dinner. Jesus took this offering and fed a multitude. A group of friends agree to bring a paralyzed man through a throng and onto a roof and then lowered his cot into the presence of the Great Physician who healed and made the man whole. An unmarried woman agrees with an angel to be used by God and conceives the child who would be Savior. Over and over again our God shows the power of miracles so that we can expect the unimaginable and find joy in the moments.
The astonishing factor in our miracle moments is not that the impossible happens. We know that on a given day by a given person, anything really can come about. What makes miracles stand out in the mind is that feeling of elation we get when we see the unprecedented become a reality. Our eyes widen in awe as we become a part of something that we collectively realize is special, out-of-the-ordinary, just short of unbelievable. And yet we believe because we witness it. How glorious.
Being open to the miracles in this world is awesome. Witnessing the miracle is life-changing. Being part of the miracle is incredible. Members of that 1983 championship team say that they don’t recall any of the personal accomplishments of the night. What lasts is the memory of a team and a coach working together, pulling together, shaping and molding unheralded long shots into the year’s national champions. A miracle team who made believers of the multitudes.
Edminson is the Editor of Baptist Children's Homes (BCH) of North Carolina Charity & Children publication & also serves as BCH Special Assistant in General Administration. This column is intended to invoke thought, to inspire and to offer encouragement to families and athletes across Davidson County.