BERWICK — The day finally arrived for Berwick grad Jayson Terdiman to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics, and the community was ready to cheer on the local athlete.
Dubbed “Team Terdiman,” the natives of Berwick gathered for a pep rally at the Reliance Fire Hall located on West Third Street with a giant screen, a laptop for streaming and a projector to display the event in anticipation for Terdiman’s moment of glory in doubles luge.
When Terdiman’s moment came, the crowded room of people cheered and screamed for him as he and his partner Christian Niccum finished their first race with a time of 50.354 seconds and their second race with a time of 50.591 seconds.
Terdiman and Niccum placed 11th out of 19 teams and qualified for the team relays to be held today.
Among those in attendance of the rally was Terdiman’s long time friend Mike Corbacio.
Corbacio, 23, is only a year younger than Terdiman, but the two have been next door neighbors and friends since their middle school days.
“During the summer we played all types of sports,” Corbacio said. “Junior high baseball, little league, so we knew each other from that and it just carried over.”
Corbacio was very proud of his good friend, and regardless of how he did he knew he gave it his all.
“It’s just joy,” said Corbacio. ” You obviously want him to win and place and be on medal contention, but just the fact that him competing on this level is a win on it’s own.”
Corbacio said before Terdiman departed he told him “do what you did that brought you here” and intends to greet him with a big congratulations when he returns.
Berwick already has plans for that return, dubbing March 1 “Jayson Terdiman Day.” The celebration will include having him ride on a firetruck throughout the town up to Berwick High School, where he will be given a citation from Harrisburg.
As for Wednesday’s pep rally, Marc Nespoli, owner of Berwick’s Fuel Fitness gym, played a pivotal role in the operation, supporting Terdiman through such things such as hanging red, white and blue ribbons on street signs throughout the town.
The rally itself began at 5 a.m., over four hours before the double luge event was set to begin at 9:15 a.m.
“We’ve really just been hanging out and getting excited for the event,” Nespoli said. “I think there are a lot of people here that are very nervous and excited right now. WBRE was here broadcasting live, we’ve been eating donated food and drinking lots of coffee.”
According to Nespoli, donations for the event were made by Grey’s Furniture, Nespoli’s Jeweler’s, Fuel Fitness, First Keystone Bank, Dalo’s Bakery, Georgie Bagels, Mason’s Monograms, Towne Camera from Bloomsburg and many of the community’s individuals.
The Berwick high school cheerleading squad also made an appearance in the early morning before school to show their support for Terdiman not long after they returned home from competing at Nationals in Florida
“There’s been a lot of people who pushed hard to make this happen, but we just want to make it about Jayson,” Nespoli said.
A key contributor to getting Team Terdiman organized was the Columbia-Montour Chamber of Commerce.
Amy Shortlidge, a member of the committee, is another person who played a key role in organizing Term Terdiman and supporting the man himself.
According to Shortlidge, the group’s role was trying to get businesses in the community involved to help support Terdiman.
“(We) just try to get business involved,” Shortlidge said. “Whether it’s through donations, through refreshments, financial support to help Jayson and his dream, just business awareness. Getting the businesses to support whether putting signs up, change their marquees, hanging up balloons, banners and just getting the entire business community involved.”
Shortlidge mentioned a big part of organizing all of the activities from the community and spreading word about the pep rally, among other things, was social media.
“Number one was social media,” Shortlidge said. “Facebook, Twitter, emails, anything like that, we got the word out. It was also going door to door, talking to our friends and talking to our families.
“Word of mouth spreads very fast here in Berwick, so if people know that we’re here to support one another, everybody knows about it immediately.”
The Facebook page for Team Terdiman has over 1,800 members from all over the country.
Up to 100 people were coming and going throughout the morning and Shortlidge said it was overwhelming and heartwarming.
“It means a lot to see everybody come together for such a great cause,” Shortlidge said.
The Berwick United Way was another big factor in organizing the pep rally and other events for Team Terdiman.
“The United Way’s role was really to connect resources that got people here to really spread the word, spread it out through our network, rally the folks and rally our network to attend these events,” said United Way member Ginny Crake. “I think the other role for the United Way is that we’re promoting the positive image of Berwick.”
Sporting white T-shirts that say “Team Terdiman” on them with the Olympic rings colored in with the American flag, Crake said the shirts have sold over 500 throughout the country.
“The T-shirt sales at Mason’s Monograms have been all over the country,” Crake said. “She has orders from Oregon, Iowa and certainly well outside of Berwick.”
Crake echoed Shortlidge’s comments of the pep rally being a success and praised Terdiman for helping to bring the community together whether he knows it or not.
“This Olympian has transformed our image,” Crake said. “We are so incredibly proud to be from Berwick and we are so incredibly proud of him coming from Berwick. It proves that great people come from small towns.”