'Unforgettable' act of sportsmanship

Posted: February 16, 2012

TIRED OF READING negative stories involving big-time collegiate athletics? A special moment occurred during a recent Division III men's basketball game that restores one's faith that there still are really good people at the collegiate level.

Gettysburg senior guard Cory Weissman scored his first collegiate point in last Saturday's Centennial Conference home game vs. Washington College (of Chestertown, Md.).

The big deal is, Weissman suffered a stroke following his freshman season.

Gettysburg was leading by 18 points when Weissman returned to the floor in the final minute. He had started the game on senior day, then was immediately replaced.

"The Washington coach [Rob Nugent], one of the classiest coaches I've ever played against, sent an assistant to our bench and asked [Gettysburg] coach [George] Petrie if he would put me back in the game," Weissman said Tuesday night. "They said they would foul me."

Weissman, from Jackson (N.J.) Memorial High School, missed the first free throw with 16 seconds to go, then made the second.

"I was a little nervous on the first shot because I'd been on the bench so long," he said. "For some reason, the second shot was the most confident free throw I've ever taken."

When Weissman made the shot, the crowd erupted and his teammates on the bench cheered. "There wasn't a dry eye in the place," said Gettysburg athletic director Dave Wright.

"An unforgettable day," Weissman said.

Writing to Washington College officials, Wright said Nugent, "along with his coaching staff and student-athletes, displayed a measure of compassion that I have never witnessed in over 30 years of involvement in intercollegiate athletics."

When Gettysburg co-captain Tim Lang (Garnet Valley High) informed Weissman he would start vs. Washington, "I almost broke down," Weissman said. "When I got back to my apartment, I was by myself for about 20 minutes mostly crying."

Weissman said he thought about how hard he worked to overcome the stroke, which left him paralyzed on his left side. "I realized I might never play again," he said. "I was so proud I had accomplished my goal."

A large crowd was in Gettysburg's Bream Gym because the Bullets were honoring last season's Division III national championship women's lacrosse team.

Referring to Weissman's long road back, Petrie said, "I never heard him complain. He apologized for not doing enough to help the team."

Weissman hopes to be a physical therapist or athletic trainer (his mother Tina is a PT; his father Marc is a veterinarian). Weissman credits his family, including older brother Jeremy, for helping him recover.

When Weissman treats patients as a PT, imagine the stories he can tell. "I can say, 'Look what I've been through and where I am today,' " he said.

The 83-69 victory over Washington also was significant because it gave Petrie, a Springfield (Delco) High graduate, the Gettysburg record for most basketball wins (322). The late Hen Bream, Gettysburg's longtime football and basketball coach and athletic director, held the record.

Petrie is in his 23rd season as the Bullets' coach. His brother, Geoff, is president of basketball operations with the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

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