The splash heard ‘round the world

Published 8:53 pm Saturday, October 4, 2014

Carol Lynne Shotton of Suffolk already had plenty of reasons to be proud of her 17-year-old grandson, Graham Garner, but he recently added another big one.

Garner plays water polo for Oakwood High School in Dayton, Ohio, and pulled off a play that ended up earning the No. 2 spot on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays that aired on Sept. 30.



While Shotton must appreciate her grandson from afar, she has been able to keep close tabs on his accomplishments by becoming savvy with the Internet, along with Garner’s parents in Ohio.

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“I guess it’s keeping in touch through technology,” Shotton said.

She said she found out about Garner’s big play “in the middle of the game,” after a video of it was posted on Facebook.

It was Sept. 20, and the Oakwood Lumberjacks were playing Napoleon High School during a tournament held at Princeton High School in Cincinnati.

Napoleon led 6-5 with 10 seconds remaining in the game, when Garner, the Lumberjacks’ goalkeeper, had possession of the ball in front of his own goal.

“I thought I heard my coach yell, ‘Shoot!’” Garner said. When he hurled the ball, “It was intended to be a shot, but I was not expecting it to go in.”

It ended up traveling the entire length of the pool, skipping once across the surface of the water before finding the inside of Napoleon’s goal with six seconds to go.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Garner said.

Shotton has learned about the game of water polo because of Garner’s involvement in it, “as much as I know, which is not much,” she said.

When she saw the video of her grandson’s miracle shot, she said, “I wasn’t sure it would count. I figured it was like soccer, and they might be offsides or something.”

But the crowd reaction gave her the confirmation she needed.

“When the whole audience screamed, I knew that it was real,” she said. “It was just funny, it was such a fluke.”

After regulation, Napoleon went on to win in a shootout, but that did not come close to overshadowing Garner’s achievement.

Shotton explained that the 14-second raw footage video published online near the beginning of last week went viral on YouTube. It has appeared on USA Today’s High School Sports website and among others, and it currently has well over 8,800 hits.

ESPN notified Oakwood on Sept. 30 via Twitter that the video was being considered for the Top 10 plays that night, and it ended up at No. 2.

“I think it’s great for the sport in general because it doesn’t get as much press as something like football or basketball,” Garner said. “I had no expectation for it to blow up like it did.”

Shotton was proud, and said, “Who in the world has a 17-year-old who’s been on (ESPN’s Top 10 Plays)?”

She recalled the time Graham’s father, Mark Garner, got his own 15 minutes of fame on the game show “The Price is Right” in 1980.

“So, now Graham thinks he can keep up with his dad,” she said.

Click here for the raw video, and click here for ESPN’s Top 10 Plays segment featuring the video.