A tale of two women
And now they get their own place inside Conway Gym, where history gets told through an ocean of iconic green banners. The history had always been about the boys and all the football, basketball and baseball teams in the 06320 that give New London cachet well beyond the city's boundaries.
The boys were in the stands Sunday at Mohegan Sun Arena, faces painted and in full throat, celebrating maybe the greatest story ever told in the estimable history of Whalerville. This was the day that the concepts of "state champs" and "New London girls" was no longer fodder for the fiction section. It was as real as the championship pile, the hugs, tears and euphoria that comes with history nobody ever saw coming.
This was about two women. Two strong women. This was about Kerrianne Dugan, the young coach. This was about Lexus Childs-Harris, the senior and unofficial team mother who emerged from the morass of two-win seasons in her younger years and found herself with the net around her neck Sunday afternoon.
New London 57, Morgan 52.
They are women.
Hear them roar.
Dugan: The greatest single season coaching job in the history of the Eastern Connecticut Conference. Forget about the big green banner. She gave them hope. Belief. Attitude. In a place where it was needed more than a spleen. All the things they'll carry beyond basketball. She's what a future college coach looks like still in her mid 20s.
Childs-Harris: She's carrying on the family name just fine, thanks.
Seriously. It's doubtful anyone else could ever dethrone the Walkers as the region's first family of sports. Mike, Matt, Pete, Andy, Liz and all the kids. But the Childs-Harris gang is making quite a run.
They are good people. Lexus' brothers, Bryce and Torin, played at New London High. Her stepfather, Dave Cornish, is the boys' coach at Ledyard High. Uncle James is the coach at Avery Point. Cousin Khary is the best all-around athlete at Ledyard.
And yet maybe the family's best example of its character wore No. 11 in green and gold Sunday. This was her day. Her time. At other moments of the basketball season, you'd have found Lexus selling 50/50 raffle tickets with her grandmother at Khary's basketball games.
Never an eyeroll. Never anything but a smile. Makes you wonder: Why can't they all be like this kid?
"I do it because it's family," Childs-Harris was saying Sunday in the hallway outside the locker room, where the celebration played on. "I'd do anything for my family. Family is everything to me. It's not like I'm playing for Ledyard. Just helping my cousin out."
Just helping her cousin out.
Or as her mom, Sendra, said Sunday: "She does what you ask."
It might seem insignificant to you. Unless you are the parent of a teenager. Getting them to look beyond their own self-interests is like asking God for a lifetime supply of $100 bills.
This is why, you figure, she's the mother. Lots of freshmen and sophomores who were greener than their uniforms a few months ago. Lexus lives the messages of responsibility.
"Sometimes," she said, "I have to tell them, 'no, we can't do this, it's a crucial time of the season.' They come to me for certain stuff, just like you would your mom."
Childs-Harris was quite the picture Sunday. Smile that could have lit up Bank St. Sporting a championship medallion and the net around her neck. The easy story here was how Childs-Harris finally emerged from the shadows cast by other family members. Bryce and Torin had successful careers. So has Khary. Her stepfather wins at Ledyard as does Uncle James at Avery Point.
"I never felt like I had to live up to somebody's name. Ever," she said. "Maybe that's just me as a person. I feel like I'm my own person. I never really felt overshadowed. I knew my time would come if I worked hard enough."
Her time came every time she sold those 50/50 raffle tickets, listened to her mother and counseled her teammates. Her time came again Sunday when everyone else could share in the history she helped author with her coach.
Good things happened to good people Sunday at Mohegan Sun.
Hope you were there to see it.
Some of us won't ever forget it.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.
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