By Ken Reed
“Wins and losses matter, but true acts of sportsmanship define participants. A moment this genuine should be required viewing for all athletes.”
—Chip Scoggins, Minneapolis Star Tribune
I love this story.
Ty Koehn, a high school pitcher for Mounds View High School in Minnesota, strikes out a childhood friend, Jack Kocon of Totino-Grace High School, to send his team to the state tournament. But instead of immediately celebrating with his teammates, Koehn sprints to home plate to hug and console Kocon. It’s truly heartwarming to watch.
“It was just instincts to go up to him and let him know that the outcome of the game isn’t as important as our friendship,” said Koehn after the game.
Kocon appreciated the gesture.
“When I realized what happened, I hung my head and he gave me a hug,” Kocon said. “That was huge for me, because I needed someone and he was there for me.”
Koehn and Kocon played on Little League and travel baseball teams together when they were kids. They remained friends despite going to different high schools.
While hugging his buddy, Koehn told Kocon the loss wasn’t his fault and that he loved him.
“It was an amazing gesture, a show of sportsmanship that puts a lump in your throat,” wrote Scoggins this week.
“A young man experiencing one of the greatest moments of his sports career offering support to a young man experiencing one of his lowest moments.”
It’s something Kocon will never forget.
“Obviously it stinks to see yourself striking out on every major news [outlet], but it means so much more than that,” said Kocon upon reflection.
“In 20 years, I’m not going to remember the score. I’ll just remember what he did and that’s all that matters to me.”
That is sport at its best. It isn’t the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA championship. It isn’t the Washington Capitals winning the NHL’s Stanley Cup.
It’s heart-driven acts of sportsmanship like Ty Koehn’s.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.