The Miracle Night

By Coach Jim Johnson

On the night of February 15, 2006, the bleachers at Greece Athena High School near Rochester, New York, were packed with students who had just begun cheering wildly and jumping up and down. During that same moment, I collapsed into my seat as tears welled in my eyes.

Never before had I made a coaching move with such impact. Never had I felt such emotion in my career. You’d think we had just won a championship. It wasn’t a buzzer-beating basket; it wasn’t a heave from half-court that made the place go nuts. In fact, it wasn’t even a specific play. All I had done was turn toward the player with uniform number 52, point my index finger at him, and say “J-Mac.”

Up bounced Jason McElwain. In giving him some playing time, I enabled him to realize a lifelong dream. It was the last home contest of his senior year, and Jason was seeing his first varsity action.

Now this might seem like a fairly ordinary moment, but Jason wasn’t your ordinary basketball player. He was small and skinny. He stood all of 5 feet, 7 inches and weighed only 120 pounds, and his blonde hair was partially covered by a head band.

J-Mac with the Team