Tyler Coppo of the 2013 National AAU Championship runner-up team put together this slideshow to highlight their tremendous season and a once in a lifetime opportunity.
JIM COPPO – The following is a reflection of the journey that most dream of, let alone experience!!
A year ago we set the wheels in motion with a mixture of returning players and new recruits. We knew it was special, however we never expected this. We never dreamed that our journey would take us on a path that would make stops in places like the New Hampshire State House, Fenway Park, Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, Historic Terry Park, all the Red Sox spring training facilities, Hammond Stadium, plus championship game appearances in every entered tournament, and hosting the AAU New England Regional tournament. Our own 20 team tournament. Every game went on schedule, and we were again playing in the championsjop game, against a very tough Cape Cod team in front of a full house. It all happened because of our people, all very special. Kudos…The 45-5 record when we departed for the AAU Nationals wasn’t a fluke, it was a direct reflection of our guys, the guys who went to work everday, had tremendous passion and were simply a joy to be around. They made us look good, cared about their team and had a desire that was unbelievable to be part of. As the wins started to pile up and the competition became tougher we knew that we would be tested, however the more we were tested, the more our guys worked, and the results were always the same. From opening weekend, at the New Hampshire Bobcat Classic and a championship game appearance till the end at the the AAU Nationals, and yet another championship game appearance, the guys showed class, pride and determination. The end result, a National Runner Up trophy and an AAU National Sportsmanship award.
The memories along the way, visiting with N.H. Governor Maggie Hassan, playing at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, having an on field sendoff in front of a full house at a New Hampshire Fisher Cats game and then being congratulated for their accomplishments at the same venue, walking thru the center field entrance onto Fenway Park in front of 33,000 people, meeting professional baseball players, spending time with Ryan Kalish and Molly McGrath, and watching as our guys walked onto City of Palms Park on Championship day are all memories that I’ll have and cherish forever. Teams, coaches, media, friends, The New Hampshire Fisher Cats, (players and staff), our beloved Governor, many, many people became fans because our guys were on a journey, a journey reserved for special people. As the ride continued and the hype grew bigger, more people embraced our team because our guys were truly special. I’ll never forget the drives to the ball park every weekend, the classy Mothers Day recognition, the flowers, hugs and tears, the pink Cancer awareness games and even wearing those uniforms in Florida, and the comments that followed. I’ll always remember handing the ball to Sammy Fairbanks before the Championship game, telling Sammy Cooper, this is where champions were made, trying to get out a pregame chat in the tunnel where many Red Sox players and coaches have graced and then looking into our guys eyes as they watched another team celebrate a heart breaking extra inning victory. I merely said to them, I don’t know what to say, I didn’t prepare for this, because I too, truly believed in them. Then finally, just before the Nationals award presentation, I was called out to accept a special award..the National AAU Sportsmanship award. For the record, I’ve never coached to win that award, but humbled, I accepted it. Proud would be an understatement. As much as it hurt to fall short we did things not many, regardless of talent, ever get to experience. For the rest of their lives, they’ll have memories they can share, and as we prepare for 2014, know that our journey will continue. The logo on their jerseys is special, our facilities are special and what our guys accomplished will forever define the true meaning of being a New England Raven. They learned how to win, knew how to win and became winners in every sense of the word regardless of any score. Congratulations on a great 2013, you’ve helped the New England Ravens soar above the rest…. THANK YOU!