I was happy that the Crestview boys basketball team got a state title
last weekend. It was a great accomplishment going undefeated for the
entire season and post-season. Now the players are small-town
celebrities, and I hope they drink it all in because they provide
It all took me back into a flashback sequence. I
didn’t play basketball in high school, but my high school’s hoops team
went through the regular season undefeated. In Indiana — where
basketball is King, Queen, Jack, Ten, and Ace. There were no divisions
or classes in Indiana basketball all the time, and my alma mater was
(and still is) a small school.
Granted, my small high school was
about twice the size of Crestview, but for Indiana it was small. The
obligatory comparisons to the fictional Hickory High School squad from
the movie “Hoosiers” were made in the press. I remember the coach joking
about running the “Picket Fence” play. The players, including some of
my friends, were pushed into the limelight.
The sad finish to that
story is that the team lost in the final of the section and finished
21-1 for the year. But the teammates had experienced an exciting run of
I never had one of those. Probably the closest I came to a
small-town celebrity status was with my high school baseball team. We
won some kind of title and our team picture was blown up to “bigger than
lifesize” and was hung in the school gym. It stayed there for years,
but I’ve heard that the school cleaned house two or three years ago.
That gigantic picture was apparently either auctioned off to the highest
bidder, sold at some school district garage sale, or was burned in a
giant pep rally bonfire.
I don’t know. I really don’t want to
know. I wouldn’t have heard about the housecleaning at all except an old
classmate sent me a message wondering if I wanted to buy an old band
uniform. I didn’t want the band uniform. I had to wear one occasionally
in high school, and it didn’t exactly make me into a chick magnet, if
you get my drift. Can’t imagine it would have the desired effect a few
About a decade ago, I was in the home of a former
athlete — big-time athlete. He had a memorabilia room. It was jammed
full of trophies, plaques, school-color t-shirts, pictures, newspaper
articles, sports equipment, and many items I could not even recognize.
He said he never goes in the room, but used it more as a large walk-in
closet of things he never used. It was beyond my comprehension. Of
course, he was far beyond a small-town celebrity. He had been a
celebrity in high school, but that was long in the past.
of us, high school was about being popular with other students. I don’t
recall ever wanting to be popular with adults in the community. Maybe
that’s because I wasn’t a good enough athlete to attract the attention
of any non-student. I suppose that’s good. I knew my friends’ parents,
but that was pretty much it.
I wasn’t a small-town celebrity, and
that was alright with me. I didn’t have reporters coming up to me after
the game asking about what kind of pitch struck me out to end the game.
That saved me some embarrassment.
But these 17 and 18-year-olds
today have to deal with print, radio, television, and Internet
journalists as well as well-meaning and proud alumni. That’s an added
burden for these kids that would have driven me crazy. As a high school
student, it was all I could do to find a prom date, let alone deal with
the real world. My hats are off to those who can handle the attention
and still be human beings who can be lived with.
congratulations, Knights. And when you are in your 50s, you’ll think
back on your high school career and smile because you know what you and
your teammates accomplished. When I think back on my high school career,
I remember only practice, injuries, and highlights inflated by time and
a poor memory. I subscribe to the motto: The older I get, the better I
was. So I’m going to go home and polish up my MVP trophies and dust off
all the fan letters and interview requests. I’ll put it all in my
memorabilia room, sit down, and pretend I really was worthy of all the
attention I never got.