The rough-and-tumble Genoa Comets football team once again showed their true colors Oct 30, 2009 when the then 9-0, gridders put yet another convincing beating on another poor SLL opponent in front of a packed house at Comet Stadium.
They looked jacked-up, nasty-as-nails and all-business as usual as they trotted out onto the field clad in their traditional, sharp maroons and grays for pre-game warm-ups.
But team leaders Greg “the Human Bowling Ball” Hillabrand, an ever-focused Matt Bassitt, Mr. “All-Ohio” Connor Wendt and the rest of their fierce charges proved that these Comets also have a softer side. It was evident in the splash of pink on players’ cleats and ankles, a pair or two of receiving gloves, armbands and even a steel knee brace.
The show of color went a long way in sending out a battle cry to the fans, the community and the local football world that the boys from G-Town were in the mood to lay the smackdown on visiting Elmwood and that this team cares enough to pause between snaps to look at what’s truly important in this world – like lending a hand in knocking out breast cancer.
The reality of the disease unfortunately hit home for the team when Carol Hamilton, the wife of sideline photographer Harold Hamilton was diagnosed in August.
“This darned disease is scary, and all the guys were really driven on this,” said head coach, “Iron” Mike Vicars. “Honestly, the guys kind of kept all of it to themselves, and they spent all their own money on the tape. Something like this is what life is really all about. We are all very proud of all of them.”
“I know that two of our football players, (Woodmore transfer) Chris Cuevas and Matt Bassitt headed-up the campaign,” said Genoa Schools Superintendent Dennis Mock, who is quick to add that the season finale against the Royals wasn’t the first time a member of the Genoa athletic fraternity picked up the proverbial ball and made a run against cancer. “The volleyball teams in the past have all participated in cancer activities vs. Eastwood, and our cheerleaders always host their ‘Cheer for a Cure’ event.
“And besides, what’s wrong with pink?”
And on that rainy and windy Friday night, the Comets beat up on Elmwood 60-0, and then got presented their third-straight SLL trophy at mid-field during a rousing “Apache”-fueled celebration.
In the heat of the victory, one could not help but get the feeling the evening was as much about what was going on down on the sidelines during the game, and in the mind of Hamilton as the champs strutted their newly-adopted “hot-pinks” in an emotional show of solidarity.
A longtime director of Research for Libby Owens Ford, an aspiring sports shutterbug in his golden years, and a current resident of Northwood who nonetheless still has strong, emotional ties to G-Town saw his own children, and a good number of their children go through the Genoa Schools System. It was through his friendship with Bill Skilliter, of the Genoa Athletic Boosters, that Hamilton first caught the bug for shooting Comets football.
“I just enjoy doing it,” said an emotional Hamilton. “I’m an amateur – not a pro by any means, but I do it to help support the Genoa sports programs and Genoa Schools, just to say thanks for all the good memories, and the friendships over the years.
“The night the boys all came out in pink – it’s tough to explain without getting all choked up even today,” Hamilton said, adding that his wife is doing well and received encouraging reports following a recent mastectomy.
“Some of these kids I know really well, and well, just about all of them know me somewhat,” he said. “They all call me Harold, not Mr. Hamilton, even though I’m old enough to be their grandparent.
“And to think that these young men did this, to salute people struggling with breast cancer, with a few of them even saying they were doing it for my wife. . . it’s really incredible,” he added.