Friday, March 2, 2012

School Sports

Ellis as a varsity basketball player during his senior year at Fielding High School in 1955.  I have other pictures of some of the rest of us, but havn't got around to digitizing them so they can be included in this blog.

As most of you know Dad was not a sports junkie.  He found little enjoyment in  or need for participation in sporting events, especially if a ball was involved.  He was pretty much hooked on work and doing what he could to make a living for the family and when we were growing up that seemed to be a full time job at least for him.  That doesn't mean, however, that there were no sports allowed at our place when we were growing up.  Well do I recall the rolled up pair of socks which served as a makeshift basketball flying around the living room in an attempt to get it to fall be hind the door for a score.  The space  behind the closed door served as the hoop.  I don't recall Mom or Dad getting really very upset about our indoor winter activity, though I'm sure they would have preferred a little more serene atmosphere sometimes.  Our ward building at the Lanark Ward didn't have a recreation hall per se and so there was no basketball court for the youth to spend some of their time on cold winter nights.  I do remember that occasionally our ward young men scheduled the gym at the Emerson School in Paris to go and play basketball on Mutual nights.  That gym left a lot to be desired too, but since it was so short in length we could occasionally go home and brag about making a full court shot. 
     When we got into high school at Fielding High we wanted to play on the school basketball teams.
The school was small so it wasn't to hard to make the team.  Ellis played a lot, at least his senior year, and to me he was the star of the team.  They didn't win all the games, but they drew a gym full of faithful and somewhat raucous fans.  It was fun to be in the packed gym and listen to all the noise as our Spartan team tried to gain another victory.  It seemed like everyone in the community came to the games.  I do remember one special game when Ellis was a senior.  Fielding beat our arch enemy, Montpelier High School.  Ellis, I remember, played very well in that game.  Moroni Schwab was the coach at Fielding during this time.  I played on the Junior Varsity during my first three years in High School.  I was always kind of skinny and not well coordinated and so for the first few years I got to practice a lot, but in games I only got to play a little. As a junior I started on the JV and played quite a bit, but in my senior year, I was once again relegated to the bench for most of each game.  It didn't seem to matter too much to me.  I was a part of the team, which was what was really important to me.  We had many good times and won most of our games during my senior year in high school. Mom and Dad would come to some of the games when they could (they had to do our chores first) and I know they liked to see us participate in school activities and were proud of us when we did well.  If they couldn't make it, we caught a ride home on the activity bus, which ran to all school activities and most everybody rode the bus.
     Road trips were especially fun it seemed.  We got out of school early and the school bought the team a good lunch at a restaurant in the visiting town if there was one.  I remember eating at a restaurant in Afton, Wyoming on a school basketball trip.  It was the first time in my life I had done that.  Others on the team were not much different in that respect.  Back then there wasn't a fast food joint on every corner.  I remember one particular road game.  We played in American Falls and were late getting home, after midnight.  It was a bitter cold night, about 30 below zero when we got home to the school in Paris.  Dad had let me take the old truck to school that day so I would have a ride home after we returned from the game that night.  I don't know what I was thinking about, but I got to talking with one of the other players from just north of Paris about a mile before going home.  When I went to start the truck, it wouldn't even so much as make a grunt.  In my mind I had no choice but to walk home.  So I walked north out of Paris with my team mate, Rex Law, who lived north of town.  After we reached his home I walked on along the highway alone toward Lanark.  Finally, somebody came along.  Don't ask me what he was doing on the road at two o'clock in the morning.  He stopped and took pity on me and delivered me our home.  In those days we didn't have a telephone and besides that, I had got myself into the pickle and was not about to ask for help to get out of it.  All turned out well and the memories are sweeter than the actual experience. Strange how that has worked out over the years.
       Reed was probably the best athlete in the family.  He played football and basketball at Fielding for three years and was one of the best players on the team.  Their team won a lot of games, unfortunately for me I missed nearly all of them as I was in college at Utah State in Logan or serving a mission in Germany when he was in high school for most of the time.  His Senior year Fielding High School and Montpelier High School were consolidated.  Reed played on the very first Bear Lake High School teams.  They did quite well that year.  At the end of the year Reed was awarded the "Most Valuable Athlete" award.  He did well in football, basketball, and track that year.  He also served as the co-student body president that year.  I remember after the season was over Mom and Dad hosted the basketball team and coaches to a nice home cooked meal at our home in Lanark.  I still haven't quite figured how they did that in our small farm home, but they did and everyone enjoyed it.
     Mark also got involved in sports in high school.  He played football and basketball.  I remember watching some of his games.  By then Iris and I had moved back to Bear Lake with our family and enjoyed going to the games.  I remember Mother always worrying about Mark getting hurt in football.  She would always breath a big sigh of relief after he got up from every tackle and especially at the end of the games.  Mark did  well in high school sports and enjoyed being on the teams.  He had one of the cheer leaders convinced that he was the best.  That made up for any inadequacies he may have experienced on the court.
      The girls, well this was before Title Nine and equal opportunity for girls in school sports.
     This post was mostly about high school sports, particularly basketball.  Softball in the summer was a whole other story.  Maybe I will make a post about those experiences as well.
      I'm sure others in the family may have other memories along these lines.  Please feel free to add to or edit any of this.

by Bart