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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Struck Strikes Out: Moye experience has 'Groen'

Monday, March 26, 2007

"Geez, one little bounce pass to help the poor kid out and it just keeps coming back at me. Embarrassing, that's what it is."

If Cherokee Braves' high school basketball player Dillon Moye would ever utter such words, none could fault him, for it was his incredible act of innocence and kindness to a total stranger 40 days ago that still reverberates across Iowa today.

Moye, a junior at Cherokee Washington High who plays for the JV and varsity Braves, has impressed thousands throughout Northwest Iowa with his actions during the Braves' JV game at Sheldon on February 13.

With a sizeable lead in the JV game, Sheldon had entered an "end of the bench" substitute player who had never scored a point in his prep career. After missing a few shots, the player's teammates, intent on getting him a basket, told him to stay under his own basket, even when Cherokee had the ball. A couple of long passes to the kid after Cherokee missed a shot failed, and time was running out with Cherokee in possession and Moye dribbling the ball out front. With about five seconds left in the game, Moye turned and bounced a pass to the kid at the other end, who scored a basket as the final buzzer sounded.

Then, as the shocked Sheldon and Cherokee fans began to realize what they had just witnessed, one by one they began to stand and cheer for Moye's selfless act of kindness, unscripted, unplanned, unheard of, and oh so underful. The Orab gym rocked for several minutes.

E-mails and letters from Sheldon supporters followed Moye and his team back to Cherokee, lauding this caring son of Curt Moye and Julie Moye.

As fate would have it, Cherokee had to play Sheldon in district tournament action in Cherokee a few weeks later. With the game in hand in the fourth quarter for the rated Orabs, the Sheldon fans began chanting, "We want Dillon!" And when Cherokee coach Trent Coombs complied, the place went bananas with everyone in the gym standing and applauding. Moye then promptly canned a long three-point basket in the closing seconds that brought huge, enduring cheers from everyone in the gym. Moye was sought out by the Sheldon players and fans after the game for more meaningful back pats and hugs.

After the Chronicle Times reported the poignant story on Page 1, the Sioux City Journal followed up with a well-written article, by a former Storm Laker, no less. Thus, the Dillon Moye legend was established.

Fast forward now to last week when Dawn Coombs, wife of Trent, the Braves varsity baksetball coach, called Spencer Trophy & Awards in Spencer to check on the trophies for the Braves team awards presentations at the annual post-season potluck banquet at WHS.

"There's an extra trophy in there that goes to Dillon Moye. No charge," said owner Brett Groen, who had followed Moye's story. Groen suggested the special trophy be put in the school's trophy case where it can serve as a standing tribute to Moye and a prime example to other kids that thoughtful and random acts of kindness can have far-reaching effects and, just maybe, bring us all a little closer together.

I telephoned Groen to thank him for his own act of kindness and asked him to explain how it all came about. He had this to say:

"I'm a coach (girls varsity tennis at Spencer), and a former high school and college athlete (he played tennis at Spencer and at Northwestern College in Orange City). I read about what Dillon did and was told all about it by my sister, whose son, Justin Kuiper, plays on the Sheldon varsity basketball team.

"I also was a sports broadcaster for 12 years and I've seen the ugly side of sports and, now at the other end of the spectrum, the beautiful side like Dillon's. Like many others, I was touched by the emotion of the story. It's something you will never forget."

A 1989 Spencer High graduate, Groen has owned Spencer Trophy & Awards for a little over a year. He also had special words etched on Dillon's sizeable trophy, conceived straight from his heart:

"Sometimes an athlete's greatness is measured by his stats, but in this case his greatness was measured by one stat - an assist."

Trent Coombs, himself deeply touched by Moye's, and now Groen's, acts of kindness, couldn't bring himself to read the trophy inscription at the team's banquet Sunay night, so he had one of his players read it.

"I would never had gotten through it," said Coombs, who also vows he'll never forget what Moye did.

Give and you shall receive, indeed.

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