The North Attleboro High School boys track & field team from Massachusetts had defeated Central Catholic High School by the smallest of margins. The early June victory clinched a second consecutive Division 2 state championship for the Rocketeers by a score of 69-68. On the following Monday, Coach Derek Herber was entering the team’s scores in his record book when he noticed something wasn’t right. After calculating and recalculating the results, he never came up with the 69 points that gave his team the win.
“For individual scoring, I try to keep up with it and try to keep the kids [aware of] where they are individually for scoring,” Herber told the Boston Globe. “We were looking at it, and I did all the math, and I said, ‘Aww.’” Coach Herber immediately reported the discrepancy to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. Yet another recalculation was done and the MIAA properly awarded the Division 2 state championship to Central Catholic. North Attleboro finished third behind Central Catholic and Woburn High School.
Showing true humility and class, Coach Herber doesn’t view his actions as anything special. He thinks it’s a trait carried by coaches across his state. He said, “I truly believe that any coach, any coach in North Attleboro, any coach at Central Catholic and 99 percent of the coaches in the state of Massachusetts in all sports would have done the same thing. Most coaches are also teachers. You’re teaching other things in sports. You’re not just teaching wins and losses. You’re teaching about athletics being a tool of education.”
Mike Leal, coach at Central Catholic, recognized the sacrifice Herber and his team made. “After sitting down and thinking about it, I feel terrible for the North Attleboro team,” Leal recounted for the Boston Globe. “They were flying high, it was tied going into the last event – the 4 x 400, and they came through. My heart goes out to them. I applaud their coach for catching the scoring mistake. I don’t know if that would have been caught otherwise.”
Coach Herber did not have to report the scoring mistake. He could have pretended not to see it. He could also have pretended to be a teacher and coach, but thankfully for the kids of North Attleboro, their coach is not a pretender. He’s the real deal.