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All of Montana is thrilled by SI's cover photo featuring Carroll College junior linebacker Brandon Day's euphoric reaction to the Fighting Saints' fifth NAIA national championship in six seasons (Pictures of the Year, Dec. 24). That photo was a window to this team's untold story. It's the story of Luke DenHerder, a tight end who returned to the gridiron after beating cancer, and his fellow student-athletes, who shaved their heads in solidarity during his chemotherapy. It's the story of athletes hailing primarily from rural Western towns, ranches and farms, from struggling middle-class families, who know the meaning of hard work and who haven't seen much glory in return. It's also about Mike Van Diest, a two-time NAIA Coach of the Year who has led the Saints to all five championships, while demanding that our athletes put God first, family second, school third and football last.
Your picture of amputee swimmer Anselmo Alves was an early Christmas present for physically challenged athletes who often compete in anonymity. The photo may inspire an amputee to take up swimming and reap the benefits of that sport.
An unheralded Picture of the Year was actually tucked into the Dec. 24 issue's Leading Off. Bob Rosato's photograph of Greg Camarillo crossing the goal line to give the Dolphins their first win of the year shows the unabashed joy that a game can bring to its fans. Just look at the two men hugging in the right center of the picture, or the exultation of the Ravens fan in the left center raising his hands, lost in the excitement of the moment. Thanks for reminding me why I love sports.
EDITOR'S NOTE: BYU reports that Tavernari was not injured.
Thanks for recognizing a great year for college football's FCS. Here's another big win by a small school that could have made your story: Northern Iowa's 24--13 win over Iowa State in Ames on Sept. 8. Northern Iowa, which went 11--0 in the regular season, is the school that produced former NFL MVP Kurt Warner.
You include Randy Moss among the poster children for the quaint, scandal-free FCS, but please recall that he blew chances at Notre Dame and Florida State for disciplinary reasons before ending up at then I-AA Marshall.
The Mitchell Report