CARPE DIEM 2007: One team’s journey

Every now and then, Gator Country comes across a heart warming, compelling story. Sometimes our stories are planned, but sometimes it’s the result of a remarkable piece of luck. While following the remarkable senior seasons of Florida Gators signees Nick Calathes and Chandler Parsons at Lake Howell High School, a marvelous story emerged that is a tale of perseverance, faith, hard work, dedication, unselfishness and love. “Carpe Diem 2007” is a video documentary of a very special season and some very special kids.

First in a series of six parts that will run through Friday…

(Publisher’s note—this series will be free to give you an idea of the kind of unparalleled and exclusive coverage Gator Country subscribers receive daily!)

This is a labor of love, put together by John Calathes, Nick’s dad and his first coach. This is the story of how the Silver Hawks overcame three years of Final Four frustration to win the Florida 5A basketball championship in 2007. In this extraordinary series, you will not only see plenty of highlight moments from Nick Calathes, Chandler Parsons and the third of “The Three Amigos,” VCU signee Joey Rodriguez, but you will see a team that personified all that is good in sports.

Just like the Florida basketball team that won back-to-back NCAA championships in 2006-07, this Lake Howell team was about all the right things. Sure, they had real star power in Calathes, Parsons and Rodriguez, the tri-MVPs of the state tournament, but they had something even greater and that was a bond that held them together tighter than a double coating of super glue. We will always remember Billy Donovan’s back-to-back title teams because the kids that made up that team stole our hearts with their love for each other and their dedication to the team. Watch this six-part video series and see the Lake Howell Silver Hawks in so many ways mirror the championship Gators.

Calathes was a McDonald’s All-America. Calathes and Parsons made the Jordan All-America team. Rodriguez was a dazzling point guard. Yet on this team, the three biggest stars were the leaders by example and the example they set was one of the team always comes first. This really is a story about one for all and all for one.

So stay with us these next six days as Gator Country brings you this remarkable documentary of one great team in its quest for the prize that had eluded them three straight years. Our hats are off to John Calathes, who put this together and gave a copy to each member of that Lake Howell team. He was kind enough to share it with Gator Country and we’re forever indebted.

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Franz Beard
Back in January of 1969, the late, great Jack Hairston, then the sports editor of the Jacksonville Journal, called me on the phone one night and asked me if I wanted to work for him. I said yes. The entire interview took 30 seconds. It's my experience that whenever the interview lasts 30 seconds or less, I get the job. In the 48 years that I've been writing and getting paid for it, I've covered Super Bowls, World Series, NCAA basketball championships, BCS championship games, heavyweight title fights and what seems like thousands of college football, baseball and basketball games. I'm a columnist and special assignments editor for Gator Country once again, writing about the only team that ever mattered to me, the Florida Gators.