After four years, she had become an expert at corralling and passing. But this was not the brown leather ball with which she had gained her notoriety.
It was tall and triangular and virtually hollow, except near its top where the gas canister was wedged.
Each of the 8,000 holes in the triangle’s mesh were designed as a tribute to one of the country’s athletes, community leaders or local heroes.
These 8,000 honorees were the torchbearers for the opening ceremony of London’s 2012 summer Olympic games.
One of them, Rosalee Mason, is a 2004 graduate of Manhattan College and also holds the career rebounding record for its women’s basketball team.
“Once it was passed to me I was the only person in the world at that moment handling the Olympic torch,” she said, her voice still filled with awe.
Mason’s torch run, which she estimated to be about 300 meters, occurred in Bexley, a neighborhood in London, on July 22.
She waited at the side entrance of Miller and Carter, a local watering hole, until Olympic officials told her it was time to get in position for the “kiss” of torches.
With several of her seven brothers and four sisters watching, Mason was handed the flame of the ancient Grecian gods at 6:08 p.m., and carried it along Hall Place Access Road to Bourne Road A223 near Gravel Hill.
In a sense, carrying and passing the Olympic torch has at least a symbolic resemblance to Mason’s hugely successful career as a small forward at Manhattan College.
“Just like with the kiss of the torches, you always want to make sure you are receiving and accurately passing the basketball,” she said. “Especially in the last five minutes when the game is on the line.”
She was up to the job.
In her career at Manhattan, the 5-feet, 10-inch tall Mason seized an unprecedented 1,217 rebounds, a mark which still stands in top spot in the history of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC).