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9/11: Thank-you Shannon Mesaros

POSTED September 12, 2011
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                     9/11: Thanks Shannon Mesaros

Thank-you Shannon Mesaros.

Even now there is a non-natural fog to those days of a decade ago. Those days that came along with 9/11.  Sure, like all old enough, the moment of awareness that a passenger-loaded plane had crashed into the World Trade Center is cemented in the memory banks like a name on a tombstone. For the record, I was teaching a social studies class at Thomaston High School and a student walked by and relayed the news. It was one of that handful of seminal moments that all generations experience – JFK’s assassination, landing on the moon, etc.

But it gets murky after that. We did what we needed to do as teachers and helped confused, upset, fearful, angry students get through the day. We checked with family and made sure all was okay. My son Jonathan was 19 months old at his babysitter’s house and my wife works in West Hartford. We reassured one another and entered a new world.

Suddenly what had only minutes ago seemed pretty important didn’t seem to much matter. It was hard to concentrate. Events were both tragic and mesmerizing.  The high school sports season was scheduled to get underway the next day and my assignment was Holy Cross-Naugatuck girls volleyball.

I wasn’t sure that they should be playing and I was sure that I didn’t want to go. Home seemed to be the place to be as the almost surreal events unfolded. You wanted to bask in the safety of family and share the comfort. But, you make a commitment and you stick with it.

So I went. It was a good decision. The amazing tonic of sports and youth was potent and its value should never be underestimated or underappreciated. It was a release for me and the athletes on the floor.  

For a couple of hours the fog lifted and there was lightness to the atmosphere. Or at least a lighter mood. The images of planes and Al Qaeda and towers crashing and human losss that left a hole in the pit of the stomach were not eliminated but their impact was at least neutralized for a couple of hours.

Maybe the concentration wasn’t 100 percent but the student-athletes needed to be there, having fun in the now. The future and all of its uncertainty and the ugliness of the time needed to be given a rest.

I didn’t really care who won and in all honesty wouldn’t have remembered if I hadn’t come across the story I wrote about the match several days ago. What I do remember is Shannon Mesaros.

Naugatuck’s tri-captain had played well. After the match she sported a big smile on her face and an ice bag on her shoulder. I wrote at the time, ‘It was a smile of victory, of pride. A smile of friendliness. She had played well, her team had won.”

It was a smile that lifted some of the fog for me.  It was a start on what would be a long road back to normalcy. It resurrected the feeling that fun and happiness were still available, that behind the cloud there was still some bright rays that beckoned.

It was the lift that was needed. And it lasted. As night gave away to day again in my world, 9/11 shared time with the death of one of my former students. The fog grew heavy again. Mesaros’ smile helped.

One week later Fran Marrello, then the 47-year old Country Club of Waterbury assistant pro, won maybe the biggest title of his career with a victory in the 70th Connecticut Section PGA Championship at Black Hall Club in Old Lyme.

It was a terrific triumph for a terrific golfer. Yet, the timing took its toll.

“I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about it,” Marrello told me.  “Winning the title may not seem as big as in other years. (The attack) puts life in perspective. This is part of our lives as golf pros but there are more important things. A little of the luster is gone.”

We all could relate. I kept going back to and drawing strength from Mesaros. A smile and an ice bag go a long way.

It’s been a decade now. I don’t know Shannon Mesaros. I had never talked to her before the match that night nor after. I do not know where she is now or what she is doing. Hopefully she is happy and successful.

This much I do know. Ten years ago she wore a smile and an ice bag that brightened a dark day. That smile is long gone and the ice long melted. But its image is still a powerful tonic in a dark time.  It is remembered as is she.

Thanks Shannon.  


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