Newspaper clippings and trophy cases hailing decades worth of athletic achievement line the halls of the new gym at St. Mary's School for the Deaf. These odes to the past have fueled Michael Lumley throughout his young life.
Lumley would gaze behind the glass at the soccer ball commemorating Rusty Ormsby's school-record 76 career goals and think, "Why not me?"
He'd eye the basketball commemorating Jerome Griffin's school-record 1,823 career points and tell himself, "That's the record I want most of all."
Thing is, there was a time when no one was sure Lumley, a senior, would advance to the varsity level. The concerns had nothing to do with his athletic ability. There was always a glut of strength and speed to draw out of his 6-foot-2 body. More worrisome were his behavioral missteps, his propensity for walking out of class or off the practice field when frustrated by a teacher or a coach.
Jim Carmody set him straight in a hurry. Get your act together or else. And Carmody had the clout to deliver on the threat. All those dreams Lumley entertained of supplanting Ormsby, Griffin or both would vaporize if he kept running afoul of the man who coaches both teams. St. Mary's teachers caught on to where the leverage lay. When they had a beef with Lumley they went straight to Carmody. Problem solved.
The two of them laugh upon recalling those days, back around the seventh grade, when Carmody twice dealt Lumley one-game suspensions that kept him off the soccer field. Why, just a couple of weeks ago it was Lumley who noticed a player on the developmental team storm away from the practice field. Next thing anyone knew, Lumley was at the kid's shoulder, informing him that this was no way to get on Carmody's good side.
"He's real good with younger kids," Carmody said. "I bring my son to games. He's 3. And he already knows who Michael is. And Michael's very, very understanding and compassionate with kids with multiple disabilities, and we have a number of them."
Gone are the days when Lumley was, to use his own description, "Awful. A brat." Now he's a recognized leader, one of the captains on a soccer team that played nine-on-nine because of the school's dwindling enrollment. Not long ago he had a five-goal game, a feat made all the more noteworthy because he's continually double- and triple-teamed. It's that strength, that speed, that fierce determination that arose from all of the strolls down those decorated halls.
Lumley can't get enough of sports. He spends his spare time devouring televised games and published statistics. He resides at St. Mary's Monday through Friday, and it's understood that the TV room remote belongs to Michael if there's a sporting event to view. It's not just the games that captivate him, but all the numbers as well. That's how Carmody came to nickname him "The Ticker."
"What was Trent Edwards [passing] last game?" Carmody says to Lumley in sign language a few days after the Buffalo Bills' win over San Diego.
"Twenty-five of 30," Lumley signs back.
Lumley's cognizant of the numbers but he's not caught up in the numbers. He's equally attuned to the strides he's made off the athletic field, proud that he's matured into a role model.
Which isn't to imply that the numbers are meaningless. Lumley scored two goals Thursday in St. Mary's season-ending game against Gow, finishing with a school-record 28 on the season and a magical 78 for his career. Move over, Ormsby. And soon Lumley will renew his pursuit of Griffin, just 341 points to go, his mission to place another ball behind the glass that's been the window to his world.