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Cider and flowers make up a couple of my favorite moments of 2017

To quote the great minds of the longtime broken up rock group Oingo Boingo, we close our eyes and another year has come and gone.

And that means it’s time for me to open my eyes and publish my moment of the year.

I sort of stole this idea from a local daily paper I used to work at. The bosses wanted the writers to pick their favorite behind-the-scenes story of the year, whether it was humorous or touching or whatever. I wrote about everything from a Cub relief pitcher belching really loud while the press was talking to Sammy Sosa to writing a story in the Cubs’ dugout to save time so I could watch my son’s All-Star game.

I modified it to the top moment that I experienced in a calendar year.

This year I have two. A tie.

The first came during the early stages of our Top Sports Story of the Year – the closing of Queen of Peace High School.

It was on Jan. 26 against Kennedy. It was senior night for the basketball team, which was going to play in its final game ever in that gym. The wounds from the news of the closing of the school were still fresh and emotions were running high.

Before the game, Pride coach George Shimko walked toward the middle of the court with flowers in his hands.

So, I figure he’s going to present the flowers to his players and everyone would have a good cry and we can get on with the game.

Well, Shimko wasn’t giving his players the flowers. These were for Kennedy seniors Sabrina Ricci and Patty Kapusciak.

I thought that was a pretty special moment, although I was a little late jumping on that train. Shimko said that he’s been presenting visiting seniors with flowers on his team’s senior night for years.

I’ve seen a lot of senior nights from when I was a senior in high school to now, when some people try to give me senior citizen discounts (Hey, I’m not that old!) and I can’t recall the visitors receiving flowers.

Favorite moment No. 2 came Nov. 5. It was supposed to rain like heck that day and I was ready to cover Moraine Valley’s noon women’s soccer battle at home with Waubonsee. The winner was to go to the nationals in Florida. There was a lot on the line.

So, the weather was cooperative until noon and it was raining hard in Palos Hills. And the wind was kicking up. And I was having trouble taking photos and keeping the camera dry. I may have uttered a few dark oaths at that point, despite the fact I had gone to church a few hours prior.

This was not a day I was expecting any special moments.

Well, at halftime the rain stopped and Moraine was in the process of beating Waubonsee, 5-2, and I was looking forward to some postgame celebration photos. This was going to be the third year in a row the Cyclones qualified for nationals and – darn the luck – I was on one side of the field when the final horn sounded and the players were celebrating way on the other side and by the time I got close enough for decent shots, they had dispersed.

I may have uttered a few more dark oaths at that point and I was thinking that I might have to go back to church for the 6 p.m. mass to offset my mutterings.

After congratulating the opponents and receiving a few awards, the Cyclones then brought out some boxes and proceeded to have a champagne celebration. Well, it was actually a sparkling cider celebration but at the time I didn’t know that. When I saw one of the players take a swig, I thought “Uh, oh – someone could get in trouble for this.”

But it was cider and after watching the comedy of some of the players and coaches trying to bite the tops off the bottles, it was party time and these players were spraying each other like they just won the World Series. It was a really neat moment watching the liquid fly and the laughs.

One note – Cyclone Claire Collevy somehow suffered a bloody nose in the celebration and blood was all over the top of her jersey, but her smile indicated she wasn’t in too much misery.

Again, I was a little late on this one. They had started this tradition a year before but this was the first time I saw it.

The Cyclones lost two matches at nationals but they will always have that memory of celebrating with cider.

So, will I.

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