“I CRIED FOR 15-20 MINUTES” — Entry #14 from “A history of the events of the Allentown College’s 1972-1973 B-ball season…

Posted on Jan 21, 2013

… AS CHRONICLED BY, AND WITH THE PERSONAL MEMOIRS + OCCASSIONAL PHILOSOPHIZING OF THE AUTHOR, ONE STEPHEN J. McKEE”

This CENTAUR SEASONS post was written 40 years ago.

PREVIOUS GAME: Centaurs 56, Wilmington College 71, three days ago

NEXT GAME: at Philadelphia Pharmacy, six days

CENTAUR SEASON: 2-5

We lost to Wilmington, 71-56. The score doesn’t tell the whole story. They picked up a lot of their points in the last 45 seconds – eight, to be exact. We were down five at halftime, and although we never let up, we were never ever able to really put the pressure on them.

Big crowd at the game. Why not? Everyone’s back from break but classes hadn’t started yet.

I only played about nine minutes. All in the second half. That’s the first time since freshman year that I sat out for an entire half. It really hurt. A lot. All this just days after Coach told me that for us to win I will need to get more playing time.

After the game I hemmed and hawed. I took my time, to say the least. I was all right for about the first 10 minutes after the game. But slowly I started to brood about my performance. I got down, farther and farther. Joey Thompson and I were the last to leave the locker room. Right as we were leaving I said, “I suppose it’s rather obvious that I don’t really care to show my face to anyone tonight.”

Joey asked, “Why? Do you think you played that bad?” I laughed a little.

By that time we were at the top of the steps leading down into the gym. I could see some people up in the lobby at the other end. Not too many, but enough. I turned around, already crying, and walked directly back into the locker room, sat on a bench and cried – 10-15, maybe even 20 minutes.

I doubt that I have ever been more ashamed of myself than I was right at that moment. Not for crying, but for why I was crying. I finally left, by a side door of the gym. The last thing I wanted was to see anybody – anybody.

I walked back to the dorm, through the dorm, with a towel over my head, up to my room and got the keys to my car. I felt that I had to get away from the whole scene. All of it. I passed P.J. Brennan, who was talking to his dad, all but ignored him, and as I got into my car I heard Bobby Stormes ask me where I was going. “For a ride.” My roommate Dave Glielmi and his girlfriend were sitting in the car next to me as I drove out. I gave them a cold wave.

I’m rather proud of what happened after that. I suppose I could romantically tell how I went out by myself, and with “God as my witness” pledged that from this moment on I would be the very best basketball player I could be, hungry for the ball, skyin’ for the rebounds, blockin’ everyone’s shot. At the end of the year, after having completely ripped apart the opposition, people would whisper as I passed and furtively tell how “he became a new man” when he went off by himself and with the cosmos as his only witness changed his entire life.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, none of the above took place. This is not to say that such thoughts didn’t cross my mind. But I am a wiser man thanks to experience. My junior year in high school, I got up every morning at six a.m. and ran and trained for the track team in the spring. I trained seven months, four days a week. When track practice started I blew everyone off the map. Nobody could catch me. Until they finally got to be in as good a shape as I was. The first track meet I watched from the sidelines. I was a sprinter. In high school you only need four sprinters to take care of the two sprints and the one relay. I was number five sprinter. So I would sit.

Seven months of genuine hard work out the window? Not me, no sir. The night I learned I was not to run the first track meet I fumed, I fussed, I swore. Incensed, I wrote catchy phrases and pasted them in my room, at the foot of my bed. That way, I figured, every morning I would be inspired by these “one for the Gipper” catch-all phrases. I think that it was within three weeks of this episode that I quit the track team.

[I WROTE ABOUT THIS HIGH SCHOOL TRACK EXPERIENCE IN GREATER LENGTH IN THE BOOK “MY FATHER’S HEART: A SON’S RECKONING WITH THE LEGACY OF HEART DISEASE.”]

That high school experience had made me just a bit wiser. The situation now was the same: all the frustration, disappointment, anger, resentment, all-for-naught feelings, the surrender attitudes, were revisited from my junior year in high school. Only this time the feeling of frustration was ten times as strong. But this time, I knew better than to pledge – in that keyed up, adrenaline high – myself to conquering all mountains.

I simply hoped that I could always remember that terrible feeling of frustration and disgust. At that moment, I hoped I would always be incensed, keyed-up, ready to play.

Twenty minutes later, as I sat in Mr. D’s restaurant, I honestly felt like a fool, sitting there all by myself like a complete idiot.

But I’m glad that I finally wrote it all down. Maybe now that feeling of frustration will be forever captured, as I wanted it to after the game.

PREVIOUS GAME: Centaurs 56, Wilmington College 71, three days ago

NEXT GAME: Philadelphia Pharmacy, in six days

1972-73 CENTAUR SEASON Schedule and Results:

12/1  — at Lehigh CCC — W/81-71 — 1-0

12-4 — at Northampton CCC — W/87-50 — 2-0

12-6  — EASTERN BAPTIST — L/73-75 — 2-1

12-12 — SPRING GARDEN — L/54-66 — 2-2

12-16 — PHILLY BIBLE — L/72-79 — 2-3

1-18   — at Baptist Bible — L/82-84 — 2-4

1-19  — WILMINGTON — L/56-71 — 2-5

1-25  — at Philly Pharmacy

1-30  — at Spring Garden

2-3   — at Messiah College

2-6   — at  Wilmington

2-13  — RUTGERS, S. JERSEY

2-16  — LEHIGH CCC

2-20  — MESSIAH

2-22  — NORTHAMPTON CCC

2-24  — PHILLY PHARMACY

2-27  — BAPTIST BIBLE

 

 

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Welcome to CENTAUR SEASONS: A ‘memory blog’ of the basketball beginnings of a half-good, half-bad, all-new college team.

Once, I was a Centaur.

I played basketball for Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales in Center Valley, Pa. I was on four of the school’s first seven teams, was MVP senior year and in 1974 graduated in the fifth class.

My junior year I kept a diary: A History of the Events of the 1972-1973 Allentown College B-Ball Season, as Chronicled by, and With the Personal Memoirs + Occassional [sic] Philosophizing of the Author, One Stephen J. McKee.  One-hundred-forty-five hand-writ pages. (Yes, I was an English major.)

But it occurs to me now: Were I today a “Bulldog” playing for “DeSales University” (both mascot and name changed in 2000), my private “History” would be not a diary but a blog.

So starting November 30  “…Personal Memoirs…” will be re-imagined as CENTAUR SEASONS

A blog before its time, posted 40 years after in real time.

Meanwhile, beginning on September 24, here at CENTAUR SEASONS the preseason has already tipped off, with stories, interviews and reminiscences of the people, the place and the purpose of those early years of Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales.

Check back often. Sign up for CentaurSeasonAlerts. Email CENTAUR SEASONS to friends.

We were not a bad team, we Centaurs. We just weren’t very good. Winning was always the goal, if never exactly the point. How could it be, with victories so few?

Back then Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales was a couple of buildings in some cornfields.  Our commitment to the school’s basketball program was far greater than was the school’s commitment us. So what? We got to play college ball – and paid for the privilege! In return, we got to be part of a team, wear the red and blue, be Centaurs. And we got to create a place that was, right then, as much concept as it was college, making itself up as we went along.

What we got was a once-in-a-life-time chance.

All we had to do was keep showing up -- next practice, next game, next season. And so we did.

Welcome to CENTAUR SEASONS.

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