The story of David and Goliath — or how a perceived underdog can defy the odds against an overwhelming foe — is familiar to virtually everyone who has engaged in competition.
Jon Moro has experienced both sides of that parable.
As a sophomore at Camden-Rockport High School in 1996, he and the boys soccer team experienced David’s side. The Windjammers entered the playoffs as a No. 8 seed and traveled six hours to upset top-ranked Fort Kent in the regional quarterfinals.
As a senior in 1999, Moro was a guard on a Goliath-like Camden-Rockport basketball team that defeated four tournament foes by an average of 15 points to capture the school’s first Class B state championship in 25 years. It was the first of six gold balls the program — now known as Camden Hills — captured in 13 years.
Now 40, Moro is the boys varsity basketball coach at his alma mater. He’s also an accomplished artist who will unveil his sculptures of David and Goliath at an outdoor exhibit from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Barnswallow Books in Rockport.
“It’s kind of an intersection of my life as a coach, my faith and my experiences as an athlete and as an adult,” Moro said. “I always loved the story of David and Goliath, it was my favorite growing up as a kid.
“But in the context of sports, I feel like as a coach one of the most important lessons that transfers into life is how to approach an opponent who is seemingly bigger, stronger, faster and higher-ranked than you.”
The unveiling of the sculptures is free to the public and will include a talk by Moro, a question-and-answer session and photo opportunities. Other works by Moro also will be on display.
Moro has been a sculptor for the last two decades, with many works depicting sports legends such as former University of Maine hockey star Paul Kariya and retired Boston Celtics standout Kevin Garnett. His sculpture of a street basketball player titled “The Crossover” is now on display at the NCAA Hall of Champions in Indianapolis.
Moro’s David and Goliath took root at an art event in Damariscotta three years ago when he was given an 8-foot long piece of basswood by a fellow artist.
“It barely fit in my car,” Moro said. “I’d never used a piece that big so I thought, ‘Man, I’ve got to go big with this one.’”
He spent considerable time researching both combatants in order to create his representations.
The rivals are presented engaged in battle — the mighty Goliath armed with a sword, heavy spear and shield while David is left to counter with his sling and rocks.
Moro took some artistic license with the sculptures, among them depicting Goliath bare-chested instead of wearing a protective breastplate in order to better display his strength.
“There’s really nothing flashy about David,” Moro said. “He doesn’t have a sword or the latest armor. What he does have is a sling, and in the sculpture the so-called rock is actually a wood called purpleheart and I thought that was really significant because we consider the purple heart to be a symbol of a warrior.”
Moro also endeavored to create a sense of motion between the two sculptures, with Goliath wearing a cape that was blowing in the wind and David had elements of his wardrobe — particularly on his belt and the pouch he used to hold rocks — that similarly defied gravity.
“When you do that it really makes it feel like they’re clashing and not posing for a photograph,” he said.
“During my research I didn’t find too many situations where David was running at Goliath and for me that was big because if I were to coach a team facing great odds I wouldn’t tell them to cower before their opponent. You’d go right at them, and in this piece you’ll see David is on an incline and he’s meeting Goliath in full stride.”
That accent on motion also helps in the depiction of David’s preparation, belief, and courage — all subtle qualities critical in his triumph over Goliath as well as traits applicable to Moro’s high school basketball career.
“If I can do anything as a coach it would be to instill those qualities in kids,” he said.