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Luby family embodies Dragon pride

A guest column by Joe St. Henry

December 01, 2010 - Sometimes, great things do indeed happen to good people.

As the final moments ticked away on Saturday and the reality of Lake Orion's state football championship set in, the celebrating began up and down Lapeer Road.

It may take a while for this team to appreciate its accomplishment and the unbridled joy it brought to this community, but the smiles of pride shared by each young man's family this weekend were contagious.

There may have been no prouder parent than Don Luby, a close friend of mine. He lost his wife, Kathy, and his kids lost their mother, a couple of years ago.

Most people, including me, have no idea what it is like to walk in any of their shoes. Watching his oldest son Nick play high school football gave my friend a break each week, if only for a few hours.

Don actually graduated from Lake Orion and played football here many years ago. With Nick now a senior and starting for the Dragons, Friday nights were even more special.

My buddy shared his passion for the game with his son but, maybe more importantly, his mental toughness. They say it is a valuable trait on the field and in life. Many of us in Lake Orion have learned a lot from this great family when it comes to acceptance and perseverance.

So, with the state championship on the line in the fourth quarter of Saturday's game and Lake Orion needing a sustained drive to wind down the clock, Nick and his teammates faced adversity head on.

Making plays against a very good team that wanted the win just as badly, Lake Orion's offense opened holes and finished the job, set up by a stellar performance by the defense.

Three first downs later, the Dragons clinched their first state football championship.

They won it for each other, their coaches, families and our community.

We saved a seat for Don at the 50-yard line, but he decided to watch this final game from high in the stands with the film crew.

His son's mom was probably there, too, watching nervously and smiling as the game unfolded. When the final whistle blew, I looked up but he was gone.

Don turned up in the winning locker room. Hugs and private words were shared between father and son, and pictures taken with the championship trophy. The season could not have ended any better.

Later that night, my friend could only smile and exclaim how proud he was of his son and the entire team.

It was an awesome feeling. Who could not be happy for Don and his family? Lake Orion's first state football championship can never replace the past, but hopefully it can provide new cherished memories that none of them will ever forget.

There are plenty more to come, too. Don's oldest daughter and youngest son also are athletes, with two younger girls not far behind. He will be watching games for a long time, hopefully enjoying a few more titles along the way.

We will always save a seat for him in the stands. Not only because he is a good friend, but also a truly a special dad.

- Joe St. Henry

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