Plenty of bitterness and hard feelings have come out of the Farmington/Prairie Grove rivalry dubbed — the Battle of Highway 62. The towns, which are located just seven miles a part outside of Fayetteville, engage in a fierce battle, whatever the sport.
However, Jeremy Mueller extended an olive branch. Instead of celebrating Farmington’s sure road win against its bitter rival in the final seconds, he made Tigers senior McKay Gregson’s dream come true.
With Prairie Grove trailing 64-55
with just 10 seconds left in the game, Gregson, who has special needs and is the team’s manager, checked into the game. Since it was senior night, Gregson, who has served as manager since seventh grade, suited up for the first time.
Prairie Grove brought the ball up the floor and Gregson launched a three-pointer. It missed, and the game appeared to be over. However, Mueller grabbed the rebound and kicked the ball back out to Gregson, who drilled a long triple at the buzzer, making the score 64-58.
Even in the rivalry defeat, the home crowd cheered wildly for Gregson, who was all smiles.
And it wouldn’t have happened without Mueller, who had the presence of mind to do the right thing. On the stat sheet the pass would be marked a turnover. But it may be the most important assist Mueller ever makes. That simple pass gave Gregson and his family a joy they had trouble describing in this well-done segment
by KHOG 40/29. After years of enduring the struggles that come with raising a special needs child, Gregson’s parents were happy to see their son recognized for an accomplishment.
Mueller wasn’t interviewed for the piece, and like a lot of good deeds may not be credited like he should. But, most that do nice, kind things don’t expect to be lauded for it. It’s a natural way of life.
Still, I hope Mueller understands how much of an impact he made. How a decision he made touched a fellow student and family forever. He had a part in one of the bigger highlights of Gregson’s life. That is huge.
In recent years, we’ve seen more of these acts of sportsmanship involving special needs athletes making headlines. It never gets old, and restores my faith in coaches and athletes. There’s an old saying, that not many people live by anymore (especially in youth sports but that’s an issue for another time) —“It’s not if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”
Everybody won last week partly because of how Mueller played the game.