IMG_1824_300px“They’re kind of making a big deal out of nothing.”  Only people built with courage and polished with humility make statements like that.  Catholic Memorial School junior varsity hockey coach John Huether is such a person.  Richard Sweeney knows first-hand the depth of Huether’s character.  Catholic Memorial and Xaverian High School were just starting the third period of their game one Sunday morning in January.  Sweeney, one of two referees at the game, dropped the puck during a faceoff and attempted to skate away from the action.  He slipped and hit his head on the ice.  The impact knocked Sweeney unconscious.  Huether immediately jumped over the wall in front of his team’s bench and tended to the injured referee.  Huether, who is a nurse, began performing a series of neurological tests on Sweeney as he came to.  He could not remember the day of the week or his home phone number.  Two players helped Sweeney to a seat in the stands to rest.  He thought the game would continue once he was off the ice.  “I fully expected to be helped off the ice and have everyone go back to hockey,” Sweeney told Boston.com.  “I said, ‘Go back to coach your team.’  He told me, ‘You’re more important than the game.’”  Huether remained by his side until an ambulance arrived.  As paramedics escorted Sweeney to the locker room, Huether instructed players from both teams to tap their sticks on the glass in a show of respect.  “I was so touched by that,” Sweeney said.  “To me, that was an ultimate sign of respect… I had tears in my eyes.”  When the game was over, Huether was concerned that Sweeney might still not remember his phone number so his family could be notified.  He contacted league officials trying to find out Sweeney’s condition.  Huether’s efforts proved unsuccessful.  So the coach drove 15 minutes to the nearest hospital he knew to check for hockey-related admissions.  He learned that Sweeney had been admitted to a hospital closer to the game venue.  Huether then drove 15 minutes in the other direction and located Sweeney and his family.  Catholic-Memorial-School-Hockey-Team-Photo_400pxThe referee was undergoing tests and his children were in the hospital waiting room.  Huether stayed with Sweeney’s children for two hours – assuring them their father would be all right while lightening the mood with hockey stories.  Finally, Sweeney emerged with his wife and was surprised to see Huether with his children.  “I was a little choked up that he had been that good to me and my family and what he did for my kids was something I’ve never seen before,” Sweeney said.  Coach Huether thought nothing of his actions.  “I was just doing what you’re supposed to do when someone gets hurt.  No big deal.”  Huether’s actions were a big deal to Sweeney’s family and the young men he coaches.  The coach taught a very valuable lesson.  Sportsmanship is about using your skills to make the game better for others.  In this case, Huether used his skills as a nurse to ensure Sweeney’s safety.  No one will remember who won the game or how many goals were scored, but they will remember the assist a coach gave to a referee.