THIS + THAT

 

sports

Some of us can try, but it seems no matter what we do, we fall short of being able to make ourselves look, or be perceived, as just a little bit younger.

Former Black River championship basketball coach Earl Washburn is of my generation, and like myself, is curious about some of the new means of communication. Both of us find it important to communicate certain messages, to a range of people at important times. We both sometimes send our messages in a variety of methods.

Washburn came up with a great idea a few weeks back. He thought it was the perfect time to celebrate Black River Basketball. I couldn’t agree more. I think it is such a great idea; I’m here now helping him lead the parade.

This past weekend was Alumni weekend in Ludlow and festivities packed the calendar. When Washburn sat down to put a little extra bounce into the weekend, he figured Sunday morning was about the only place such a get together would work.

The long time President man about town, laid out what he thought was a grand plan. He wrote a release for the well read Vermont Journal and ran it a couple of weeks ahead of the event. He was told by this generation of in the know communicators to use Facebook and Twitter and the news would get out. He wondered how many would actually show up, but he was confident, it would be a decent celebration.

One of the reasons Washburn felt this would be a good time for his idea, was somewhat close to home. The year 2017 marked the 30th anniversary of the boys title team he had coached. It would be great to get that group together again but Washburn also thought it was extremely important to celebrate “success in a school that we still have. Our team was special, but there have been a number of boys and girls championships over the years and so many other good teams. I wanted everyone from every year to be proud of what we have and have had here, before it is taken away from us.”

Black River (Ludlow) basketball touched me when I was a really young boy. I cannot remember who was on what team, when they first crossed my radar, but the names Stryhas and Libuda seem to go back as far as my mind will take me. The Southern Regional Tournament in Springfield was where I first laid my eyes on their success. They could play with the best of them. Was there a Washburn on one of those teams, I wonder?

Washburn was confident Sunday would be a good celebration of the sport. He reached out and was hopefully getting in touch with everyone with a part in the history of the sport in the town to come remember the wonderful tradition the town has pieced together. The political state of schools in Vermont made his effort a little more emotional, because no one knows for sure when or if the doors of Black River High School will close. They likely will at some time in the not too distance future, but, long live every ounce of pride the Presidents have collected over the years. Washburn knows this pride deserves a big celebration.

Obviously Sunday morning Washburn woke up wondering what was ahead. He didn’t have much of an agenda other than celebration and a potluck lunch. He did hope they would have enough food.

“I guess it was bad timing,” he tells us. “I didn’t have to worry about the food. We had plenty of food, but we had nobody to eat it. Six people showed up.”

Tracing his steps, Washburn feels the most important step he missed, was coming up with the idea following the distribution of the Alumni newsletter. “I bet having it in there would have made a big difference,” he reflects.

The celebration idea is not dead and it really shouldn’t be. This is a big thing. People today, who may have no way of knowing about the pride so many over the years have had, just wearing a Black River basketball uniform, hopefully will have the opportunity of celebrating all the pride that still can be generated.

Washburn presently hopes to possibly connect the celebration closer to basketball season. Maybe it is perfect that somehow the word didn’t get out or people had church conflicts or were celebrating Father’s Day or some other important stop along their personal journeys. There is now an opportunity that this brilliant idea will become as big as it deserves to be.

Come later this year, wouldn’t it be great to have Black River schedule a boys/girls basketball doubleheader and both teams come to be inspired to play their best game in a long time? The celebration on the surface has been created by a winning tradition, but all Black River teams deserve to be celebrated. The thought is that all Presidents who compete in Ludlow are following in the footsteps of pride earned over years and years of basketball competition. Let everyone celebrate a tradition that may not be in official uniform forever.

The idea of a basketball doubleheader may not come to full fruition, but there is still a chance to possibly combine some alumni games or something basketball related to a late year celebration. Like so many people I read about the celebration ahead of time, but the day, time and date didn’t work out. I didn’t grow up in Ludlow, but I unanimously vote there to be a celebration.

Let the idea continue to move forward.

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