Messiah Student-Athlete Lends Discouraged Professor a Key Assist

Geoff Pezon’11

Terry Earhart, professor of business and management

Watch Geoff’s game-winning kick against Lynchburg

Like concentric circles in a stirred pond, a single gesture of gracious generosity affects multiple lives in its wake. One such selfless act involving soccer, suffering and an unexpected gift recently rippled through the Messiah College community, as a tangible display of servant leadership.

Just a few weeks after Messiah senior Geoff Pezon ’11 scored the winning goal in the 2010 NCAA Division III men’s soccer championship game, he offered a key assist to a seriously ill Messiah professor.

Terry Earhart, a professor of business and management in Messiah’s School of Business, Education and Social Sciences,  was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer, in August 2010.  On November 8, he was in a Boston hospital for surgery.   By mid-December, the  educator was physically weak, discouraged and experiencing some serious setbacks in his road to recovery. He and his wife Donna had hoped to be back in their Grantham home by Thanksgiving, but post-surgical complications prevented his discharge. “When the doctor came in to my room and told me I may not be home for Christmas, it was a real downer for me,” he says. “That was my lowest point.”

That afternoon,  a package was delivered to his hospital room with a Grantham postmark. Inside the box lay an unexpected gift: the NCAA championship soccer ball that clinched the Messiah men’s eighth national title, signed by each Falcon soccer player and coach. The ball had been given to Geoff Pezon by NCAA officials after his overtime goal.  The 21-year-old player, after hearing of Earhart’s plight from Susan Hasseler,  dean of Messiah’s School of Business, Education and Social Services, immediately offered the ball as a gesture of team support and love for a teacher he had never personally met.

An avid Falcon’s soccer fan,  Earhart  immediately understood the significance of the game ball and  the heartening message behind it.   “When I opened that box and saw the game ball, I am not ashamed to say I cried” he says. “The timing of receiving that ball was perfect and so meaningful to me. It represented a real turning point in my recovery. I believe the timing of this was the Lord’s timing.

Earhart, who plans to retire from the College in spring 2011, says, “I have taught for 22 years at Messiah, so I can’t say I was surprised by this generosity. Leaving this school where I have met so many wonderful students like these only makes receiving this ball the perfect memory gift.”

Pezon will graduate this spring with a mechanical engineering degree and plans to travel in early summer with the men’s soccer team to Medallin, Colombia where they will provide academic tutoring and instructional soccer clinics for the South American city’s youth.  It will be yet another opportunity for the Messiah student-athlete to apply lessons of leadership, service and grace learned in Grantham.

“Everything we learn here emphasizes ‘team over individual’  and putting others before ourselves,” says Pezon. “When I heard of Professor Earhart’s hard circumstances, I definitely wanted to do anything I could to help.  I’m just happy I could put into practice what the faculty and coaches at Messiah have taught me.”

–Peggy Koach

Posted in 2011, About Leadership, About Service, Athletics, Business, Engineering, Faculty | 11 Comments »

Posted on February 21st, 2011

11 Responses to “Messiah Student-Athlete Lends Discouraged Professor a Key Assist”

  1. Sara Says:

    It’s lucky to get the timely assist in our life. Maybe, some of us can hardly get the necessary help when we really need helps. I think Earhart is a lucky guy.

  2. Ben Says:

    Awesome story! I love what happens to one’s perspective on life after attending MC.

  3. Jay McClymont Says:

    What a heartwarming story! Actions speak louder than words and this simple gesture provides a great testimony to the “team over individual” ethos that is seen on and off the playing field here at Messiah College.

  4. Joe Doc Says:

    Well done, Geoff!

  5. Ray Buss Says:

    Well done, Geoff. This writer is from Fleetwood and the former Soccer Coach there. Retired at Fleetwood before Geoff came along. However, have seen him play numerous times. Geoff was an outstanding student at Fleetwood and have seen him perform as a musician in the band and chorus, in which he performed
    extremely well. In fact he was perhaps as outstanding as a singer and instrument
    player as he has been on the soccer pitch. ! Am proud that he has been the recipient of my soccer scholarship the last four years.

  6. Beth Ramirez Says:

    I’m grateful that our son, who also signed that ball, can have a friend like Geoff, and a team and a school like Messiah.

  7. Ron Pezon Says:

    Geoff brings great joy to this fathers’ heart. He has a big and sensitive heart, to which I am growing closer with each passing year.

  8. Betty Buss Says:

    God works in mysterious ways! Prayers for the ill professor…..and another reason why Relay For Life, an outlet for research and education via American Cancer Society needs our support.
    Geoff is a fine young man….and it has been inspiration to see him grow in so many ways through the years. He is so deserving of his outstanding soccer honors…but would be the first one to remind us that soccer is a TEAM sport.

  9. Pat Z. Says:

    Well played Geoff. This is a great example of the closeness of our Messiah community! I <3 Messiah!!

  10. Ryan Glenn Says:

    What a fantastic story of the way that the Messiah Community can encourage each other. So many acts like this go on every day. They are testaments to the faith that binds us.

  11. dan Says:

    This a great post


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