TALLMADGE — Retired four-star general Colin Powell has been a recipient of many U.S. and foreign military awards throughout his illustrious career.
He also has been recognized for his work as a civilian, most notably when he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction in 1993.
But the former United States Secretary of State knows his journey to a highly successful life didn’t come without any wicked pilgrimages through raging infernos or catastrophic earthquakes.
"A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work," Powell once said.
On Friday, the Tallmadge boys basketball team honored its eight seniors during its riveting 91-76 victory over Barberton at James O. Maddox Court.
Some of those upperclassmen have relished their moments as leading men. The others have eagerly accepted more modest roles that lack alluring glamour or great prestige.
On this night, all eight seniors, including the red-carpet celebrities and the grunt workers, enjoyed a night to remember as they were recognized for their "sweat, determination and hard work."
"They deserve it," Blue Devils’ first-year head coach Bill Johnson said. "They worked so hard this year. All eight of them have started what my vision of our program is."
The festivities didn’t end for Tallmadge’s "Great Eight" once the ceremony concluded.
Those seniors, comprised of Nick Hussing, Sam Seeker, Jake Gardella, Sean Ambrose, Steve Zesiger, Nate Zappola, Nick Joyner and Liam Tokash, participated in another special event they may never get to experience again.
They played together during the entire eight minutes of the first quarter.
"Four of them get very little playing time," Johnson said. "They come to practice every day and they make us better.
"The other four play more minutes, have gotten better, better and better and have bought into our team concept."
For awhile, the glorious night looked like it made a dreaded wrong turn that could have spoiled this long-awaited celebration.
The Blue Devils appeared to be out of sorts when they took the floor and went to the locker room trailing by eight.
"It is a tough night," Johnson said. "There’s a lot of hoopla here. We don’t make excuses, but mentally, there is a lot more going on."
When the players returned to the floor, they could simply focus on what they do best since the distractions of senior night had vanished into the woodwork.
They wound up putting on quite a show.
Tallmadge scored a breathtaking 59 points in the final 16 minutes to pull away from a Magics’ squad that featured its share of tireless worker bees.
"The one thing about our team is we have resolve," Johnson said. "They love each other. When times get tough, they know they can lean on each other."
The eight seniors will continue to "lean on each other" until they are told to leave the court for good.
And unlike their opponents’ nickname, they know their dreams of achieving more success won’t become a reality through "magic."
"Those seniors have taken it way down to our youth," Johnson said. "I enjoy watching those kids play. Everybody else should, too.
"They represent Tallmadge on the front of their jerseys with great respect. I just love every one of them."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.