When we moved from Colorado back to the Midwest five years ago, Megan got her first real taste of my tiny hometown's passion for all things basketball and baseball. While she mocked it a bit then, she's since come around to a more accepting position, which was helpful this month, as I was invited back to Griggsville to join in celebrating the career of my junior high school coach, Ken Stauffer.
Coach Stauffer's coaching legacy includes 1,130 wins split between Griggsville's seventh and eighth grade basketball teams, countless regional and sectional trophies, two state basketball championships (with more appearances),
and induction into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of
Fame. He retires with something north of a .750 winning percentage with only two losing seasons over his 38-year career. (For the record, the 7th and 8th grade teams I played on were a combined 39-2. Booyah.)
Speaking of those teams, here are seven of the eight guys in my grade who played for Coach Stauffer all through junior high school. Six of the seven of us went on to experience continued team success in our high school years, and as this was the first time all of us had been together in Griggsville in 25 years, a picture seemed appropriate.
As part of the celebration, the school had pulled out a lot of old trophies and pictures, one of which I had completely forgotten about from 1982, but that Megan and the girls found particularly humorous. I was one of two fifth graders to make the eighth grade team that year, and though I didn't get to play in the tournament, I went on to enjoy good success in both junior and senior high baseball later (my only real credential for what I'm doing this spring…ahem).
All that to say, it was a fun weekend at home honoring Coach Stauffer, seeing old teammates, and reliving a few of the glory days. Granted, Megan reminded me of her original Uncle Rico post, and my girls couldn't quite believe I was once the age that my oldest is now, but to quote my favorite Midwestern poet:
That's when a sport was a sport
And groovin' was groovin'
And dancin' meant everything
We were young and we were improvin'
Laughin', laughin' with our friends
Holdin' hands meant somethin', baby
Outside the club, 'Cherry Bomb'
Our hearts were really thumpin'
Say, "Yeah yeah yeah"
Say, "Yeah yeah yeah"
— from "Cherry Bomb" by John Mellencamp