National letter of intent day is a thrilling time for many athletes all around the Bay Area. That was certainly the case for Bishop O'Dowd runner Eugene Hamilton III. Gene just started running as a freshman at O'Dowd. He progressed each year and starting getting attention from colleges last year.
Gene had several schools offer with a variety of levels from partial to full scholarships. He wanted a good academic experience as well. Over the past months Gene talked with coaches who promised a lot. He was unsure of his choice until he traveled to the University of Arizona. He loved the school and liked that it is in the Pac 12 so his mom could easily come from Oakland to watch him compete against Stanford and Cal.
Gene made his decision a couple of weeks ago and made the tough calls to coaches who wanted him but would have to find someone else. Gene realized turning down a school meant some other athlete would have their chance at that opening.
This week Gene's mom found out she has breast cancer. She will undergo surgery tomorrow and start the long painful road to recovery. Gin Hamilton was at the signing ceremony yesterday, a single mom with her only child signing a letter of intent for a major university. The son she had spent so much time and effort raising was now heading off to college. It would be an emotional day in any event, but with her diagnosis and impending surgery Gin Hamilton was an emotional wreck. She videos track meets and takes pictures of all sorts of events at O'Dowd.
So there she was Wednesday pulling out cameras and a wireless mic to help record this event for the school and for herself. Gin's flurry of activity certainly keeping her mind off the event of her son's life, in many ways the events of her life.
Gene signed his letter with a smile, his proud mom behind her camera beaming at her son. Eugene Hamilton III will go to the University of Arizona next year, because of what he accomplished and because of a single mom who made sure her son was in a position to reach his goals.