The Twelfth Man…
Friends of Zachary,
This current post was one that inspired me by surprise. I wasn’t planning of posting until next week but after a great weekend with a bunch of “Boys”, I felt compelled. This past weekend, Matthew, Deena and I attended the New York Cosmos game here on Long Island at Hofstra Stadium. The Cosmos hosted the Ottawa Fury in a 1 to 0 win. What was even more exciting was Matthew was honored to be a ball boy for the day. He was down on the field shucking balls and throwing them back to players as they took throw-in, goal kicks or corner kicks.
Matthew was really excited to spend the day on the field with the team and felt what it was like to be up close watching these amazing talents.
As Deena and I walked through the sea of fans, we came to the Borough Boys Section. This is the teams’ designated “cheering squad”. Ribbons, signs, chants and drums echoed throughout the stadium non-stop during the entire game. I was exhausted just looking at them let alone being able to stand for 90 minute in cheer and spirited chants. I passed through the section dodging animated fans, veiled bleachers with white & green linens with the hope to meet Nick. Nick, the elder and leader for the Borough Boys was set back among the ranting and was very focused on the game. This was my chance to shake the hand of a great supporter and say thank you to a group of committed soccer fans and all-around genuine people. After I introduced myself to Nick, I was greeted with a warm handshake, hug, smile and immediate comfort knowing Zachary had a direct impact on this group of spirit individuals. I was told they not only cheer out of love for the Cosmos but the honor and love for Zachary. (You can see a video of Zachary shaking the hands of the Borough Boys after a game).
It’s been almost a year since Zachary’s was diagnosed and the intensity and interest in his life seems to have settled among our community and friends. By no means is this a bitter or disappointed comment but one of total understanding. Family and community members have lives to live. My continued fear was Zachary would be forgotten and lost in a sea of timeless memories…if you read further, you would agree, I am wrong.
I met with Nick over a sea of chants and drums and wanted to thank him for his support. He asked me if I saw the sign they did for Zachary (Please scroll though the photo section to see the full image). It is customary for fan groups to have specific sections, to dress up in head to toe team colors, wave signs, chant for hours and showcase their team spirit by draping enormous signs with inspirational phrases, salutes to past players or just good old branding. I obviously said no to Nick as I have not seen the latest masterpiece. I looked over the railing where many of the signs rest, to find between the Borough Boys banner book-ended was a silhouette of legendary Pele and shockingly Zachary Bernstein. “The Twelfth Man.”
Deena, Matthew and I were I awe to learn that this was a banner created in Zachary’s honor. I asked Nick what the “The Twelfth Man” represents. He replied, the imagine is a silhouette of Zachary with a soccer ball. A regulation game requires 11 players on the field and the fan’s are considered the 12th member of the team. With Zachary’s “Captain For Life” status, this was a perfect title for the painted image. I was told the Borough Boys will proudly display the banner at every game. Zachary moved this group of energized fans to the point where they felt he was to be recognized on the same wall as legendary Pele. I was honored to shake the hand of Nick and praise the entire Borough Boy’s community for the continued commitment to Zachary’s memory.
This post is in honor and appreciation of this amazing group of individuals. Along our journey, we have been fortunate to meet some amazing individuals who truly make a difference. This group of dedicated fans has once again given me hope that Zachary’s spirit will live on forever.
Yesterday is gone, live for today, let tomorrow be your inspiration and future.
Our sincerest appreciation,
Deena, David, Matthew, (Zachary), Molly.
“It Takes A Village”