Definition Of A ‘Best Sports Day’

Some athletes and coaches only dream of best days. Some live it.

If you ever had a best sports day, what would it be? Were you lucky enough to score the winning touchdown or shoot the winning basket or make the tackle that saved the game? Would it be the day you played or coached in a championship game? Or would it be a single moment you had with a team that came together and succeeded beyond its wildest dreams?

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Assuming Oregon beat Oregon State this past Saturday, Saint Louis alumnus Marcus Mariota should be in New York next Saturday for the Heisman Trophy presentation RICK BOWMER / AP PHOTO

For Mililani High head football coach Rod York, you’d have to figure his best day was Nov. 21, 2014. It’s a day that Trojan football fans will cherish forever — a game where quarterback McKenzie Milton had his own best day by passing for a record seven touchdowns, as Mililani won what many are calling the most exciting high school football state championship game they’ve ever seen, a 53-45 victory over defending state champ Punahou.

What must have made it especially gratifying for Coach York, a former defensive stalwart at the University of Hawaii in the mid-1990s, is that a defensive strip in the final seconds near the goal line ended up as the game-saver for Mililani. Cheers and tears and hugs and leis deservedly followed this electrifying victory. And when Coach York helped lead the Trojans’ emotionally drained cheering section in the school’s alma mater, it would be remembered as a best day in Mililani forever.

For University of Hawaii quarterback Ikaika Woolsey, his best day had to come the night after, Nov. 22, on the same Aloha Stadium turf. There’s no other way to explain what happened in the final two minutes of the Rainbow Warriors’ second straight victory, but “wildly miraculous.” Twice in the final minutes, Woolsey led his teammates from behind — first with a 55-yard pass to set up a go-ahead touchdown with exactly two minutes to play.

Then, after UNLV celebrated way too much after scoring its own TD with 15 seconds left, Woolsey pulled off a dream sequence that sports-minded kids wish for their entire lives. Most fans figured it was all over — most had seen the ‘Bows fail too many times in the last few seasons — but most definitely had never seen what happened next. With a drive that started with just 12 ticks on the clock, Woolsey completed a pass to the 20-yard line with five seconds to go. Another pass fell incomplete. Game over? No, one second remained — just enough time for Woolsey to loft a perfect pass just over the goal line to Marcus Kemp, and Hawaii had pulled off the most improbable of comebacks and a 37-35 victory. Best day? Yes!

Finally, for a guy who has had more best days than you can count on both of your hands and all of your toes, Hawaii’s own Marcus Mariota, the stellar quarterback of the Oregon Ducks, deserves his very own special best day Dec. 13. That’s when the 2014 Heisman Trophy is announced at New York City’s Downtown Athletic Club. For the third straight year, Mariota has led the Ducks to national prominence, but more than that, he’s done it not only with his football skills, but with integrity and class.

For Mariota, his potential best day practically could be termed a lifetime achievement award for his brilliant career in college football. One stat says it all: Going into this past Saturday’s game at Oregon State, he’d thrown at least one TD pass in every game he’s played.

And best yet, a Heisman should be only the beginning for the pride of the Saint Louis Crusaders, as most pro football experts are tabbing him as the likely first pick in next year’s NFL draft.

For these three men, their best days may just keep on coming.

What’s your best sporting day?