Keon Johnson rained in a three-point shot and Winthrop superfan Mareko Singleton did not yell. He wore a Winthrop Big Dance T-shirt and hat but did not cheer. He silently pumped his fist.
Then he looked at his wife to make sure he was not in trouble. Ayunah Singleton flashed a smile that lit up the room –the Piedmont Medical Center hospital room in Rock Hill. Maternity ward.
Mareko had a good reason to be quiet, and have divided attention to his favorite team.
His daughter, Mariah, had just been born.
The baby, a bit over three hours old, wore Winthrop gear in her first clothes.
The staff at Piedmont heard about how the Singletons love Winthrop basketball, so a ‘onesie’ baby wrap was bought by staff at the Winthrop store nearby. It had an inscription: “Though I am little, I am fierce.”
Mariah Singleton, already a fan.
“I love Winthrop, the Eagles are my team – but family comes first,” Mareko said. “Winslow Schock, the chiropractor, he introduced me to the Eagles a long time ago, gave me my first tickets. And I have followed them ever since. I can’t be there in Milwaukee. But I can watch. On TV.”
His wife, Ayunah, nodded that it was OK for her husband to take care of her, the baby, and sneak glimpses at the game all at the same time just a couple of hours after the birth. The couple now has three daughters. Mareko Singleton takes care of the girls and loves his Eagles.
On this Thursday as Winthrop played Butler so far away, he did both.
A nurse weighed the baby and measured the baby’s length for the record as Mareko took video and pictures. Then he snuck a look at the TV.
“Gotta make that 3,” he whispered as Winthrop missed a shot. “Gotta defend.”
His wife smiled again. Mareko looked at the television and talked of how Winthrop had a chance if they played an almost perfect game – as he made sure his wife was fine and his daughter was fine. A proud poppa for sure.
The Eagles did not win, though, falling behind in the first half and trailing the entire game. The dream season was over.
Mareko Singleton was not daunted, though. A real man’s needs are few.
His favorite team had made it to the NCAA Tournament, and fought like champions in 76-64 loss. And just before tip-off, his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
He called it a great day.
Because it was.