What a miraculous run the Yellowjacket boys basketball team
has been on. Donít underestimate
the pressure that a high school athlete can put on themselves to succeed. And donít underestimate the mental
strain of having one of their best friends face life-and-death
circumstances. Thankfully, it
looks like Zach Gabbard is on a good path to recovery, even though he still has
a long road ahead.
Iím sure most of you are aware of Wes Leonard, the Michigan
basketball player who died after hitting a game-winning shot in his teamís
district playoffs. Not that we
werenít all already tremendously grateful that the higher powers that be (I
donít want to assume all of my readers have the same religious beliefs I have)
helped Zach survive his ordeal, but seeing how fragile life can be when Wes was
struck down really hit home, and made me appreciate Zachís life even more.
I was lucky enough to visit Zach a few weeks ago, but
unfortunately, he was sleeping most of the time I was able to be there. Iím really looking forward to seeing
him again soon. And Iím really
proud to say I live in a town that can rally around one of itís own the way
Perham has with Zach and his family.
Itís been very inspiring.
The whole story of the Jacket boyís team is inspiring. Personally, Iíve known most of these
kids for a long time. I referee a
lot of 5-8 grade basketball, and I got to see these guys at a young age, and
watch them grow. Iíve listened to
Dave Cresap talk about the potential for this group for what seems like
forever. And now they are reaching
Cresap has built Perham into a program that will always be
good. As long as heís in charge,
the days of five and six win seasons are gone. Iím not saying they will be in contention for a trip to
State every year, but who can? To
say you can put out a respectable, competitive team out on the floor, year-in,
and year-out, is pretty good. And
heís proven over the last 10 years that heís capable of lifting a team to a
20-win season. And heís capable of
taking a talented team over the top.
I was lucky enough to play for one of the best coaches in
Minnesota High School history, Rocoriís Bob Brink. I was also lucky enough to play on a team that went to
2-straight Section 8AA Championship games, and as a senior, we went 26-0, winning
the Class AA State Championship.
That was in the days of the two-class system, and we were the smallest
school to win the 2-A title before the class format change.
Iíve seen a lot of good basketball players and coaches, and
this team ranks with any of them.
They will hopefully get a chance to show the State after a win against
Thief River Falls in the Section 8AA Championship on Friday, March 18 at
Concordia College in Moorhead.
Tip-off is 6:30 p.m.
In an ironic twist, my Spartan team beat Thief River Falls
in the Section 8AA Championship game on Friday, March 19, 1988 (Man, that would
have been cool if it were the same date).
Hereís to Perham repeating that accomplishment.