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"A Shot for the Ages" - Seventh graders' experiences of the Villanova championship

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The following article was submitted by seventh-grader Titus Henkels of the Norwood Fontbonne Academy. The following was published in his school's newspaper, and reproduced here with his permission.

By: Titus Henkels

By now, you probably all have memorized the play by heart: With 4.7 seconds left in the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship game, Kris Jenkins inbounds the ball to Ryan Arcidiacono. Arcidiacono dribbles up the baseline, where Daniel Ochefu had cleaned the floor just seconds before. He crosses over Joel Berry II nearing half court. Behind Arcidiacono trots Kris Jenkins, the trailer on the play. Ochefu sets a screen for Arcidiacono at half court and Archie dribbles to the top of the key. Hearing Kris Jenkins yelling "Arch! Arch! Arch!" he flips it to him for a deep three with 1.7 seconds left. As the ball is released, Jay Wright mouths, "bang," and, moments later, the perfect arch finds the hoop. Fans roar with approval, Charles Barkley jumps from his seat like a maniac, and the whole team piles on top of Jenkins. Rollie Massimino—coach of the ‘85 ‘Nova championship team—has never looked happier. This is what happened on
TV.

But there is a side, the NFA side, that readers may not know: What were our students and staff thinking in the moments leading up to and following that historic shot?

Josh, a seventh grader at NFA, is an avid sports fan. He told me that although both of his parents went to Villanova, his whole family hates Villanova Sports. With one exception: Josh's grandfather is a diehard Villanova fan, and he eventually brought the rest of the family around by arguing that support of Villanova was really support of Philadelphia. Josh says that he never saw this win coming, but his grandfather did, telling Josh before the tournament started, "This is their year, Josh." And it was. Josh remembers his grandfather telling him a story about how in 1985 everyone was saying that Georgetown was going to win, except for him. "This is their year," he told them. Josh said that when Jenkins hit the shot he thought of his grandfather and remembered, "this is their year."

Grace, another seventh grader at NFA, also told me about her experience during the championship game. Both of Grace's' parents went to Villanova; in fact, they met there. As a result, her whole family loves Villanova sports and found the tournament run particularly special. Grace told me that although she did feel touches of doubt throughout the game,
when Jenkins took the shot she knew it was going to fall. She says that, at that moment, sitting on the couch in front of the T.V, her parents stood up and screamed for, and I quote, "like five minutes."

My final interview was with Mr. O'Sullivan, a proud graduate of St. Joe's University, Villanova's biggest rival. Although Mr. O'Sullivan went to St. Joe's, he was mostly raised a Villanova fan, so he still had a little Villanova pride left. Also, he felt pride to be living in a city that hoisted a championship trophy once again. When Kris Jenkins hit the shot, Mr. O'Sullivan remembers thinking to himself, "I just witnessed history," and he tells me that it was not only a huge moment for Philadelphia and his family, but a huge and historical moment for all of college basketball. As the interview neared an end, I asked Mr. O'Sullivan if he had anything to say on St. Joe's behalf to, in a way, get the last laugh, and what he told me is a story for the ages.

"One day," he says, "a couple of friends and me go into a Villanova game at the Pavilion carrying a huge rollout sign that reads ‘The Hawk Will Never Die.' We walk into the Villanova student section and pass it down to the bottom section and the Villanova fans unroll it and hold it, completely humiliated in front of a stadium packed with people."

Although Mr. O'Sullivan may have pulled one of the greatest tricks of all time, nothing will ever be as great as Kris Jenkins' shot. It was a shot that affected Villanova fans everywhere including our own school where
students and staff united as one to celebrate a championship for the ages.