On Thursday, February 1″ the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams from Riverside traveled to Newport for the final regular-season games against the Grizzlies. Both girls’ teams experienced injuries to key players during the season and had endured humiliating lopsided losses. In the first meeting, Riverside had won by 30. On that morning, as my granddaughter, who plays for Riverside, and I did our morning chores on the farm, I said to her “Lets’ show a little class tonight.” She was way ahead of me and commented, “Our head coach had a family emergency, and our assistant coach and the team have a plan. It’s senior night and we will only use a pressing defense if the score is very close.” The game was competitive and exciting for fans and players as Newport mounted a second half run to cut the lead. The enthusiasm and excitement evident on the faces of the Newport players were awesome. At the end of the game, the usual handshakes and congratulations were exchanged, with one exception. You see, Coach Trepanier from Newport had coached the Riverside girls in summer league, and he received a heartfelt hug of appreciation and thanks from each and every one of the Riverside players. It was a classy end to a frustrating season for both teams.
In between the girls’ and boys’ games, the seniors from Newport who participated in band, cheerleading, and basketball were honored. Of particular note for me was Ronan Sherman, who sported a large knee brace on his right leg. I do not know the young man, but I did remember that last year he had played a superb game against Riverside. His basketball highlight, as read by the announcer, was that he had dunked the ball in the coarse of a game.
On the ensuing opening tip, the ball was controlled by Riverside, and no Newport player moved to play defense. Instead, the ball was passed to Daniel Schneider, who, with a clear path to the hoop, executed a reverse dunk. Newport’s entry pass went to Ronan at half court, who likewise drove to the rim for an uncontested slam dunk, which was met with a thunderous ovation by the fans and players. With that, Ronan exited the game, the brace came off, and his high school basketball career was over. I had never seen this before, but what a great way to close the chapter in this young man’s life. Congratulations to the coaches, players, and refs who cooperated to create a fantastic memory for all. CLASSY.
The final highlight for me probably went unnoticed by nearly everyone in attendance. I employed Daniel Schneider, Riversides’ senior center, on my farm for a summer and I had also coached his freshman brother Zack in basketball. At the parents’ request, coach Dutton put both brothers into the game at the start of the fourth quarter so they could share the floor and play together for one time. A special few moments for coaches and parents alike. Thank you, Coach Dutton.
Basketball is a great sport. Our student athletes learn how to win graciously, how to lose with dignity, and the importance of communication, teamwork, and personal effort. These are important life lessons. As a business owner, we hired many employees. I always asked in the job interview if they had played sports in high school — a way of finding out if they had been part of a team that had practiced and sweat together, experienced the ups and downs of competition, encouraged teammates and all that goes with the commitment to a team effort.
In conclusion, a heartfelt thank you to the players, coaches, refs, and fans who helped create some joyous and great memories in the Newport gym that night.
Two final thoughts from the great John Wooden:
“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose; it’s the quality of the effort that counts.” And lastly, one of his sayings appropriate for sports and all of life.
“As long as you perform to the best of your ability, there is NO failure.”
the class acts exhibited at the games in Newport the other night extend into the other gyms of the league next season? We can only hope and pray. Time will tell.
Dean A Koesel — Grandpa
Reprinted with permission.
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