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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

High school player is role model for all

Sunday, November 9, 2003

Nate Haasis is by any measure an outstanding athlete. Nate's the quarterback for Springfield (Ill.) Southeast High School. The 17-year-old senior is among the best athletes in his region if not the entire state. In his high school career, Haasis completed pass after pass, time and time again. And just last Saturday, in his final high school game, Haasis stood on the verge of history. He was one pass completion away from becoming the conference career passing leader with less than a minute remaining in the Central State Eight Conference game. His team was behind by a wide margin and the opposing team from Cahokia had the ball.

Given that set of circumstances, Haasis was destined to fall just short of the long-standing passing record. Only a miracle would give his team the ball - much less an opportunity for Haasis to make that final record-breaking pass completion.

But then a funny thing happened. The Southeast coach called time-out and huddled at midfield with the opposing coach from Cahokia. And unknown to Haasis or anyone else, a deal was struck. Southeast High would allow Cahokia to score on the next play and, in return, Cahokia would then allow Haasis to complete that one final pass to establish a new conference record.

Well lo and behold, Cahokia score on the next play and the ball went back to Southeast. And sure enough, on the final play of his final game of his final season, Nate Haasis completed a 37-yard pass that put him in the record books. But Nate Haasis is no ordinary high school athlete. When he figured out just how he got that record, Haasis wrote a letter to league officials.

"It is my belief that the directions given to us in the final seconds of the game were made in 'the heat of battle' and do not represent the values of the athletes of the Southeast football team. In respect to my teammates, and past and present football players of the Central State Eight, it is my hope that this pass is omitted from any conference record."

And with those simple words, Haasis established himself as a role model for all students and all other athletes for that matter. The character, the integrity, the honesty all exhibited by this high school athlete should serve as a lesson to us all.

Nate Haasis in indeed a special person. But he's not special because of his athletic skills. He's special because of his desire for fairness. Haasis knew that even if the record books carried his name for all eternity, in his mind and heart and soul he would know that it was not entirely the truth. And that bothered him enough to request the change from league officials.

We all know there are not enough like Nate Haasis in the world today. And his story is most certainly not just about sports. But this "child" - and I'm old enough to call him that - showed a host of adults that success and accomplishment are not just about records. The final destination is secondary to the journey and just how you got there in the first place. And come to think about it, Nate Haasis is by no means a "child." With the stroke of a pen, Nate Haasis proved himself to be one helluva man.

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