Friday, November 30, 2012

A Real Winner

As society places less emphasis on winning and individual excellence, I still believe those who win deserve recognition.  That's why I want to talk today about UW Oshkosh Titans Quarterback Nate Wara.

It should come as no surprise that the resurgence in Titan Football has occurred with Nate running the offense.  Even as a freshman thrown into the mix as the starter four year ago, you could tell that he was going to excel at UWO--despite his team's struggles those first couple of seasons.  Now that Coach Pat Cerroni has been able to bring in better talent on both sides of the ball, the Titans stand just a couple of games away from playing for a National Championship.

Nate is one of those people who is a natural winner.  I've had the chance to see Nate progress through his athletic career officiating or doing play-by-play of games dating back to his grade school days.  More often than not, Nate's teams won those games--often thanks to his fine effort and leadership.  He also played a key role in one of my favorite high school sports moments ever.

Many of you likely recall the classic battle between the Oshkosh North and Oshkosh West Boys Basketball teams at the Kolf Sports Center back in 2009.  It was a multiple-overtime thriller eventually won by the Spartans.  You may also recall Nate Wara hit a shot from beyond half court to tie the game and force the extra periods.  We used my "wild man" call of that shot for a couple of seasons to promote our high school basketball coverage here on WOSH--much to the chagrin of Wildcat fans.

But the moment a lot of fans forget about came just a few seconds earlier, when Nate heaved up a turnaround desperation shot from near half court when there were still 8-seconds left in the contest.  I knew what happened right away--he had looked up at the scoreboard at the Kolf (which is very unusual for a high school player to have to deal with) and probably confused the 8 for a 2.  It looked as if Nate had cost his team a chance to pull out a miracle win.  But he didn't hang his head--or pull his jersey up over his face.  Instead, the Spartans fouled on the inbounds pass--West missed the free throws--and after the Spartans grabbed the rebound, the outlet pass came to Nate for his moment to shine again.

Now I thought that was going to be the end for my tribute to Nate Wara--until I heard Bob Burnell talking with John Morelli of Habitat For Humanity on WOSH yesterday--and I found out that there are even more ways that Nate is winning in life off the field.  Nate has been a long-time volunteer with Habitat--and helped move furniture from the former City Center Hotel to the ReStore for resale.  Nate also volunteers time for the Boys and Girls Club of Oshkosh.  He has helped out with the Old Glory Honor Flights--which allow World War Two veterans travel to Washington DC to see their memorials.  And Nate has also volunteered for the Oshkosh Community Food Pantry.  All of this from a full-time college student who also plays intercollegiate sports--and is NOT on any kind of scholarship.

So no matter what the scoreboard says at the end of UW Oshkosh's game against Linfield College on Saturday, Nate Wara will be walking off that field a winner.

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