Ken Ebbitt stumbled along the sidewalk of Western Avenue Tuesday morning on his way to Strategy class. Strategy was on his mind.
As newly minted Captain of HBS’s boys rugby team, he saw captaining Section G’s dodgeball team as a training platform. Over the course of a week, he had organized, assembled, and inspired a collection of rambunctious yahoos, few with any prior dodgeball experience. These were non-athletes, non-talkers in class, quiz bowl, and project build tryout rejects…these were the dregs of Section G.
Ebbitt woke up that morning to a voicemail from the motliest of the crew, Masa Omoto.
“B-Rate?!?! Who’s he calling B-Rate?” Ebbitt scoffed, as he pressed 4 to repeat the voicemail. “I mean sure, we may not look great on paper, but we’re even uglier in person.” After a third listen, Ebbitt realized Omoto-san was saying he would “be late” to the game. His first coaching dilemma had surfaced.
Who would Ken replace the irreplaceable Masa with? Strategy was on his mind…
In Aldrich 110, pre-class announcements included Ebbitt’s decision. In a quite unorthodox move, Ken went with the quite orthodox David Schwartz, who’s hand went up faster than a Heath Watkin pit dive. Who knew then, that that very raised hand, would elevate a heretofore fruitless section (in inter-section competition) into the annals of HBS history.
Less than six hours later, Ebbitt bent over the railing…
Coach Ken looked at his squad of twenty from the balcony of SHAD with paternalistic pride. Fighting a tear, he flashed a sign to team member Young Chung.
“He’s calling the pre-game moon…an oldie, but a goody,” Chung thought to himself.
With that, the G Dodgeball team lined up and dropped their shorts, mooning the flustered D team. The whistles blew, and then the whistle blew, and the game was on.
One-by-one, Gs started to fall faster than a bat-spun Luciano. Twenty soon became ten. Ten became five. Team G had made a dent in the D fortress, but a dozen Ds still remained. When Brian Corey got grazed in the right glut, the fallen G and the G spectators knew that their beta had just been delevered.
Only Isabelle Colin (who reentered the game after being hit in la tˆte) and David Schwartz remained against the 8 Ds on the other side of the court. Luke Johnson urged his teammates on from the backline, all the while thinking, “I haven’t seen this many Ds since my high school report card.”
The D spectators could taste blood, and their cheering grew louder.
After Colin was eliminated, the G crowd started to do the math. But after realizing noone was left who knew how to do the math, since Amit, Tom, Kayvan and Josh were at quiz bowl and Masa would B-rate, they agreed that the probability of G winning was probably as statistically insignificant as France’s poverty rate. With the skinny, chicken-legged Schwartz against 8 Ds, Team G was beyond 4 standard deviations from the mean.
But in the ensuing minutes, Schwartz began to inspire hope. With a casual air of calm and confidence, David began to hurl balls with slingshot accuracy at the Goliaths of D. With each remaining D he eliminated through a combination of strikes and catches, the G faithful began to return to faith. All the while, David dodged each incoming ball with a litheness and body control only seen by Neo in The Matrix and by Brian Boitano in his long program at the ’88 Winter Olympics. Could David Schwartz be the One?
When the D team was dwindled to three, even Section A, who had already begun to stretch for their next game, started to cheer. The crowd was three deep in the upper deck and everyone began to chant with fervent incredulity, “DAVID! DAVID! DAVID!”
It was a moment of movie magic…one that you hoped would not end without completion of the miracle in progress.
“DAVID! DAVID! DAVID!”
The chants grew louder, and it was even reported that the “man with sideburns in Spangler” was now amongst the crowd chanting.
David allowed himself a split-second of indulgence. “This is almost as good as being in retail,” he thought.
With that, he pegged a ball at the knees of the next-to-last D, and then there was one. One-on-one, mano a mano. The last D tugged at his shorts in fatigue and wearily eyed the face of fate. He looked at his fallen teammates and allusively (Rocky IV) muttered, “He is not human.”
Sensing his chance, David sprinted to the line and threw the ball directly at D’s body, and a botched catch attempt sent the SHAD crowd, the G fans, and the fallen G into absolute pandemonium. Hoisted on the shoulders of his teammates, Schwartz was consumed with the exhilaration of knowing his shorts were riding up and exposing himself but not caring. This was his moment. He earned it, deserved it, owned it.
To his wife, Rachelle, and son, Elan, he was already a hero, but nevertheless brought them great pride that afternoon. To all of the spectators, he provided the type of inspiration one cannot manufacture.
To Section D, he provided heartbreak, but gained utmost respect. And to Section G, he restored the life and spirit of G-Love – We are the section of underdogs, of has-beens, of academic mediocrity. But we are G-Love, secure in our identity, proud of each other, and ever more certain of our enduring legacy.