My high school finally got around to honoring the best basketball coach they ever had this weekend - Jack Ingalls.
He coached from the late 60s into the 90s. But his best years were the back to back 1985 & 86, when he lead the Braves to the class B qurterfinals.
One of my teammates on the 85 team, Phil Griebel is now coaching the varsity and that combined with the 25th anniversary of the 86 team was enough to finally get Coach Ingalls some of the honors he deserves.
Several of us rose to speak about the roles he played in our basketball - and non-basketball - lives. What struck me was how much this group of players from those teams still gets along today.
There is an e-mail chain that a large group communicate through, occassionally changing the subject line as needed (the current subject is "Alts", in honor of my birthday.)
I got reconnected into the chain a year or so ago. Cynically, I have thought at times that these guys really need to stop living in their greatness of the mid-80s and move on. But I have changed my tune and realized that although events of that time may be a starting point for some of their conversations, it is really the friendships that developed from those experiences thst keep them together.
Coach Ingalls played a large part in that. And I think a lot it had to do with his developing such a strong youth program, that by the time we were in high school, we didn't have to waste much time learning an offense or defensive fundamentals (coach ran a devastating zone press) and could really spend our practices playing basketball.
When I helped coach the freshman team at Shrine we had some really talented kids, but they didn't know how to play together or sound fundamentally.