Part 2 concluded with the Glory Days of New Paris High School basketball, 1962 - 1964. The stars of our team went on to play ball at small colleges such as Manchester [IN] and McPherson [KS]. I 'chose' [that's another story] to attend Goshen College [IN] as did teammate Dennis Caprarotta. As the fall semester got underway, we looked forward to the Junior Varsity tryouts, thinking that we would have a pretty good shot at making the team. It didn't turn out that way - primarily because it was not truly a basketball tryout but rather a supposed basketball skills tryout. Apparently the JV coaches thought that they could determine the best basketball players by assessing who could quickly dribble around chairs, jump the highest, and dance rapidly through a hop-scotch-like drill.
Hardly any attention was given to actual basketball skills such as shooting, passing, playing good defense, working as a unit, or what a lot of us would call "basketball IQ." Since I am quick but not fast and not a great leaper, I was cut. Denny also did not make the team, although he was seriously hampered by his bum knees.
Thus, my basketball at Goshen College was as part of the intramural leagues and an occasional dorm-versus-dorm tournament. For the intramural competition, the incoming class received a colored jersey that matched that of the last graduating class - clever. We had green jerseys that we the used throughout our four years at GC. I believe the other classes were yellow, red and blue. Also, since there were many students interested in playing, each class had an A team, B team, C team and sometimes a D team, all playing in their own division, e.g. senior A's versus freshman A's, etc. A few times there would be two class teams in one league - we had two A teams one year. Not quite sure how the teams were divvied up - might have been the intercollegiate coaches and players that grouped the intramural players. It was also possible to move up or down if needed. I think that I ended up playing at the A level for all four years at Goshen - trying to remember if I had to buy a new green shirt or if the original survived!
Kelly Green Was Our Color!
Most of our games were on week nights, which of course gave us a good excuse not to study. Our referees generally were fellows who had made the JV and Varsity teams - some were good at it, some not so much. I recollect Art Mullet, Keith Springer and Larry Mann reffed a lot of games and were relatively good. We pretty much held our own during our freshman year, and by the time we were seniors, we were regular winners. The best wins were against the faculty team - we tried to make the coaches who were playing on the faculty team sorry that they had not chosen us for the intercollegiate team! I believe that I regularly volunteered to guard Coach Ingold. Another highlight of our games is that a few attractive co-eds would come to watch us play - Rhonda Lou Willems was the foxiest of the group :-) We had some pretty decent players including roommates John Riegsecker and Marlin Nofziger and other classmates Ken Willems, Mike Hostetler, Dorrance Mosier, Dallas Rychener, Don Steiner, Don Graber, Ron Gingerich, and ______ Stuckey.
Another good time of playing ball was during the spring semester, after the intercollegiate season was over, when dorm floors and houses would face off against each other in a tournament. The teams that had varsity or junior varsity players were often the winners, but our group of nobodies from Howell House in our senior year had a great tournament, even if I didn't help out too much during our biggest win. Among our nobodies were John Riegsecker, Marlin Nofziger, Ken Willems, and Henry Bowman. We were playing a team that had several intercollegiate players and we were holding our own during the first half. The bad news was that it seemed that at least one of the two referees had it out for our team, and me in particular - the two - future brother-in-law Arnie Willems and the infamous Robert "Bob" Frey, who should have been named Richard "Dick". "Dick" was all over me, and even warned me after one foul when I must have muttered something, that I "should not take the name of his Lord in vain." I got five fouls and headed for the showers before half time. I remember banging the metal doors at the end of the gym so hard that Rhonda followed me out. Arnie give his brother Ken a technical foul for placing the ball of the floor after a foul rather than handing it to him. Despite Frey's efforts to shut us down, our gang held on through the second half, and the game came down to some crucial free throws awarded to Jack Erb, who was probably our least proficient player. Jack sank them both and we went on to the win!!! Our 50th year class anniversary will be coming up in 2018 and I am pretty sure that I will still be pissed about the refs! We played a team with 3 or 4 varsity players including big fellows Keith Springer, Mo Miller and George Liechty for the Championship and we barely lost out.
Another basketball venue during our college years was summer time night games at Rogers Park. Often we would work all day and then head to the park after supper, and sometimes play until one or two in the morning. A favorite break was to the local A&W Root Beer stand where you could get a quart of root beer in a cardboard container shaped like a small megaphone [oxymoron!!]
I should mention that during my high school and college playing days, I turned my ankles so many times, often quite dramatically, that my ankles are permanently over-sized, filled with scar tissue. The good news is that the scar tissue is so strong that I rarely turn my ankles any more! Thus with graduation in the spring of 1968, my official b-ball days at GC ended, but as will be noted in a later entry in this series, I returned numerous times to play on campus.