ST. LOUIS, MO -- The Washington College men's basketball team and head coach Rob Nugent will be honored at tomorrow night's 2012 National Sportsmanship Awards, produced by the St. Louis Sports Commission, in a ceremony at the Edward Jones St. Louis Headquarters. Former Shoremen basketball student-athletes Sal Schittino '12 and Adam Naymick '12 will accept the award on behalf of the Shoremen and Coach Nugent.
The Shoremen and Coach Nugent are being recognized for their role in the inspirational story of Cory Weissman, a Gettysburg College basketball player who suffered a stroke as a freshman only to return to score his lone collegiate point in his final home game last season.
On February 11th, 2012, the Shoremen were playing at Gettysburg College during the Bullets' Senior Day. While Weissman had worked hard to return to the court in the years following his stroke and remained a part of the team, he had not been cleared for full contact. Nugent and Gettysburg head coach George Petrie devised a plan to start Weissman on Senior Day. He was announced as a starter before the game, to loud applause from all fans and from both team benches. Immediately after Washington won the opening tip, Kevin Breslin '12 - then a senior on the Shoremen's squad - handed Weissman the ball. Weissman promptly rolled the ball out of bounds and was subbed out of the game to another round of applause.
If the story ended there, it would have been inspirational enough. However, the Bullets built a large lead late in the game and Petrie made the decision to reinsert Weissman into the contest with less than a minute to play. In the final seconds of the game, Nugent called a timeout to instruct his players to foul Weissman on Gettysburg's ensuing inbounds play. Washington's assistant coach at the time, Robert Hughes, quickly alerted Petrie of what the Shoremen intended to do so that Weissman would receive the inbounds pass.
After alerting the officials, then-freshman Sean Flanigan lightly fouled Weissman on the ensuing inbounds as planned. Weissman went to the line and the entire gym held its collective breath in support. The first shot missed badly. Weissman took the second shot and - swish - nothing but net. The entire gym, both benches, and the players from both teams already in the game erupted in applause and tears. Weisman had scored his first - and only - collegiate point and the Washington College men's basketball team reminded everyone that sportsmanship is alive and well.
The story garnered international attention, including features on ESPN and National Public Radio. A movie version of Weissman's story - entitled 1,000 to 1: The Cory Weissman Story and starring David Henrie and Beau Bridges - finished filming in Gettysburg last month and is currently in post-production. Nugent plays himeself in the film.
Produced annually in St. Louis by the St. Louis Sports Commission, the National Sportsmanship Awards honors the best sportsmanship stories, moments and people of the past year. The event showcases extraordinary examples of class and character by athletes, coaches and sports personalities from across the country. Representing all levels of sports – pro, college, high school and youth – award recipients are recognized for their integrity, selflessness, kindness, and perseverance.
The Shoremen will be playing their 2012-13 home opener tomorrow afternoon against Hampden-Sydney, making Nugent unavailable to attend the ceremony. Schittino and Naymick will be appearing in his place, alongside Weissman. A special pre-taped message from Nugent will be played at the ceremony.
For more information on the National Sportsmanship Awards, please visit: http://www.stlsports.org/awards/index.php.