Column by TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
A visitor to Mercer Christian Academy knew something was different when arriving at the door on Friday night.
In addition to the black balloons heralding “Blackout Night” at the MCA gym, there was a life-sized cardboard-mounted photo of senior basketball player Josiah “Jo Jo” Janning.
A short ceremony was carved out of the down time between the girls and boys games to honor Janning, the sole senior on the hoops squad, for his four years of work as a Cavalier.
Coach and athletics director Darrell Presley took the microphone and told the crowd, “This young man has a super attitude and it’s been a pleasure to be around him.”
As his parents stepped forward, Janning was presented with a plaque that was inscribed with what was said to be his favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 1:18, that begins, “Come now, and let us reason together ... .”
Janning said after the boys game, a 54-48 Mercer Christian win, “I knew they were going to do a little something. That big cardboard cut-out thing, that sort of surprised me.”
He said, “I’m really fortunate to have a lot of good people around here. They’re nice people, and they care about you. That’s all you really need.”
Janning scored four points but spread the ball around to his teammates and performed the necessary toil that doesn’t show up in the stat line but helps a team get wins.
His brother Caleb, a sophomore, led the Cavaliers with 21 points. He didn’t seem to mind sharing the limelight with his older sibling.
Asked about the ceremony, Caleb said, “He’s my brother. I love him to death. He deserves it.”
Their mother Teressa Janning said, “We’re just really proud. His attitude is what really impresses us. He’s a blessing.”
Presley said about Jo Jo Janning in an interview after the game, “He’s such a hard worker, and a leader on that team. Other than him, they’re all ninth- and 10th-graders. He stepped up to the plate.”
Janning may be concluding his basketball career this spring, but the characteristics of hard work, dedication, poise and teamwork that have made him successful on the court are the ones likely to carry him to success in the future.
That’s all you really need.
Tom Bone is a Daily Telegraph sports writer and cartoonist. Contact him at tbone @ bdtonline. com.