The shot heard ’round the world

Zach Rever and Hank Shapiro

“The energy was electric. I think Mr. Farag blacked out for a second. It definitely did not seem real,” said senior Colin Freer.

On Feb. 21, if you ventured onto social media, you likely came across a video of WHS History Teacher Kimberly Leegan sinking a shot on a mini basketball hoop in her classroom. The viral video took the world by storm.

But, in order to know the whole story, one has to go back to the beginning of the week to understand.

The eighth period Ancient and Medieval Traditions class started like any other that Monday, with a full class shoot around on the mini hoop in the corner of the classroom. Leegan, who teaches in the room the period before, usually doesn’t join in, but that day she took a couple of shots and WHS History Teacher Antony Farag took notice.

Farag then announced that on Friday, there would be a 100-point in-class writing on a difficult topic. However, there was a twist: Leegan would have 3 shots from the far corner of the classroom, and if she made one, the entire class would receive a 100 on the assignment.

Then Friday rolled around.

“It was an impossible shot for anyone. All the students still studied because they didn’t think it was going to happen. No one thought it was going to happen,” said Farag. With at least a dozen phones pointed her way, Leegan lined up her first shot.

“The first one was a total brick, the kids looked upset and lost most of their hope,” said Leegan. Then it was time for the second shot.

“I saw the shot go up and I thought it looked good, but thought: ‘There is no way this actually goes in.’ Once I saw the ball go through the net, everyone immediately jumped up, and my first reaction was to run over to her and give her a hug,” Freer said. Freer—the redhead seen in the video—and other students swarmed Leegan, knocking over chairs, praising her for her success.

Senior Tim Alliegro sent his video of the shot into SportsCenter on Instagram. SportsCenter responded in minutes asking for the whole story, and by the end of eighth period it was posted on their Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.

Students reposted the video on their own accounts showing their school pride and as of Hi’s Eye deadline, the SportsCenter video had 1.4 and 1.1 million views on Twitter and Facebook, respectively.

“It’s surreal. It was crazy how quickly it happened. By ninth period, I went viral. It was useless to try and teach,” said Leegan. “By 3 o’clock, I got an email from a student I taught four years ago who is currently at the University of Texas. It was very cool to hear from people I don’t talk to all the time.”

It wasn’t just the Westfield community that took interest in this highlight reel shot. The post on Twitter alone had over 600 comments with varying viewpoints. Some praised Leegan, and expressed their wishes that they had teachers like her when they were in school. Some teachers even commended her relationship with the kids, with one person saying, “this is what it is all about.”

Other Twitter users were not as supportive of Leegan’s shot, however, and some alleged that this was an example of  “America’s failing education system,” and Leegan’s “unprofessionalism,” with one user saying that, “this only happens in all-white schools.”

Apparently, the shot was merely intended as an innocent and genuine act of teachers trying to connect with their students. “I just wanted to connect with the kids to make the topic more interesting,” Farag said. “I use sports all the time to connect with kids in all my classes. It was one of the greatest moments of my career.”

As for Leegan, she expects everything to go back to normal. “It was pure joy on Friday, but I was pretty sure by Monday I would fall down the stairs at school and everything would be back to normal.”