MIDSEASON REPORT #3: Revisiting the “Secrets of the Centaur”

Posted on Jan 10, 2013

With the “HISTORY OF THE EVENTS OF THE ALLENTOWN COLLEGE’S 1972-1973 B-BALL SEASON, AS CHRONICLED BY, AND WITH THE PERSONAL MEMOIRS AND OCCASSIONAL PHILOSOPHIZING OF THE AUTHOR, ONE STEPHEN J. McKEE” still on Christmas break (next game January 18) this seems an opportune moment to look back on where CENTAUR SEASONS has been, and where it might be going, with a couple of MidSeason Reports.

MidSeason Report No. 1: A list of all CENTAUR SEASONS posts, from Day One

MidSeason Report No. 2: The John Wooden Interview, a CENTAUR SEASONS Exclusive

This third MidSeason Report looks at CENTAUR SEASONS posts that have tried to explain what it was like to go to a tiny-little, barely there college in the middle of some cornfields. How we had to make something out of nothing once we got there. And why we went there in the first place.  “The Secrets of the Centaur,” I call them.

SEARCHING FOR THAT … SOMETHING ELSE. Posted October 1, 2012.  “ ‘Is this going to be a story about a quaint little place,’ Bob Zeccardi, my senior-year roommate demanded of me, ‘or is it a story about what makes a really great place anywhere?’ That’s the question. ‘Because there aren’t a lot of great places, right? If you can communicate what it was that made that place so special, and you can somehow convey that those thing are transferable to other parts of your life, man, that would be powerful.’ ”

“WHY US? WHY FIRST?” Posted October 12, 2012. “At Allentown, my junior-year roommate Dave Glielmi remembers, ‘We had the unique opportunity to be someplace where the school changed year to year because of us – because we changed, and that changed the school. It was going through an evolution that we were involved in. I don’t think the average kid at the average school gets that kind of an opportunity.’ ”

“BRICKS AND A BIRTHDAY”   Posted October 22, 2012.   “…[I]t was no accident that we – a specific we – went to Allentown. That this particular place in its particular moment exuded a particular vibe only a particular kid could hear.”

“THE NIGHT THE CENTAURS MOVED THE BUS: Part Three of a Metaphor in Three Parts.” Posted November 6, 2012.   “The things I learned, the values I learned — sometimes in the face of adversity, sometimes in the face of fun, sometimes in the face of competition – I learned them there. The basketball was very important. The education was very important. But it’s the collection of friendships and experiences that helped me define who I am. That’s what those four years were.”  (Chris Cashman, Centaur senior co-captain, 72-73)

“AT THE END OF THE BENCH:  What a Centaur Turned Coach Learned at Allentown and Shares with UCLA Coach John Wooden.” Posted November 19, 2912.  Tom Shirley was just good enough to make the team at Allentown and sit on the bench. As with many of us (me, for sure), had Tom gone to school anywhere else he likely doesn’t get a sniff of the basketball team. Meaning if Tom Shirley, bench-warmer turned long-time successful coach, doesn’t go to college where he did, he perhaps never learns one of the most important lesson he has taken with him through his professional life. “I know what it’s like to be the twelfth man,” Tom said, declaring it proudly. ”And I learned it at Allentown College.”

“KEEP YOUR FOOT IN THAT BUCKET, STEVE!” Posted December 10, 2012. “This is what I learned about learning while learning at Allentown College. I learned that learning is what you make it, what you make of it, what you make with it. Learning isn’t what others make for you.”

“ON THE PASSING OF JACK KLUGMAN” Posted December 28, 2012. “We Allentowners of the getting-started vintage received a singular education, if only because in the absence of most of the usual collegiate accoutrement, so much of what we learned we learned from each other. It was a priceless opportunity. ‘The experience was so important to everyone, so developmental, you couldn’t buy it again,’ Jerry Wilkinson says. And what college these days would try to sell it anyway?  Come to our school. We have nothing.”

“THE YEAR THE CENTAURS PLAYED THE FIGHTING IRISH (yes — in football!)” Posted Janaury 7, 2013. “ ‘When you first got to the school,’ Wayne Rizzo says, thinking back, ‘you’d look around and it was, “Geez, this really IS in the middle of nowhere! How am I going to survive four years at this place?” But you did. And by my second year I wasn’t thinking about it being in the middle of nowhere anymore. Or that we were missing out on the stuff other places had.’ ”









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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.