The ‘Secrets of the Centaur’ Get an Unexpected Assist From an Unexpected Source

Posted on May 03, 2013

I figured out why your blog and book will be a winner. 

Well, I am certainly glad someone has! (And yes, one of the goals I’ve been aiming at here with this blog is to find the book in these Centaur Seasons.)

Those dozen italicized words that tip-off this post were written in an email to me by a friend, Kathryn, who pens her own blog at RAGGED RECOVERY. Kathryn was reacting — quite viscerally, you’ll see — to an interview she read that I had done about CENTAUR SEASONS for the “Varsity Letters” sports-reading section of the online site GELF Magazine.

In response to a ‘VL’ question posed by interviewer Justin Adler, WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GO TO ALLENTOWN COLLEGE OF ST. FRANCIS DE SALES?, I answered: “It was kind of by accident. I planned on attending Niagara University, but my father passed away in September of my senior year of high school, and [after that] I wanted to go to a school that was closer to my hometown of York, Pennsylvania. … … [E]verything just clicked—it all felt right.”

Got chills as I thought about this driving home …  wrote Kathryn, as always passionate and enthusiastic as she typed.

Regular readers are aware that another objective here for CENTAUR SEASONS has been to try to divine what it was exactly about Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales (full name, always full name) in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, that made this tiny-little brand-new nothing-there place in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by cornfields such a unique and special opportunity for a post-secondary education.

“The Secrets of the Centaur,” as I’ve called them.**

As you know, Kathryn wrote me, sports plays a bit part in my life, outside of tennis and skiing. … but when the interviewer was grilling you about what made your experience special. … and you said, “I’m trying to articulate that” ….

Well, my take away, and my ENVY, is that you took what life handed you and you engaged and embraced and reveled in it. … Here you were, losing your Dad senior year in high school, having to shift gears and go to a nearby college — one without much to offer, on paper.  But you plunged in and made it matter.  There’s a huge lesson here about acceptance and attitude and … I’M HERE AND I AM GOING TO MAKE IT SPECIAL….

Kathryn then went on to write … you will fill in the rest … as if there was something I needed to add to the perspicacity she had so observed, and yes, divined about Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales in its right-then/right-there moment forty years ago.


Thanks, Kathryn, for saying so well for me what I’ve been trying to say now about the Secrets of the Centaur for lo these past six months.

You should know her words on my behalf have come hard-wrought.

In the “About Me” section of her RAGGED RECOVERY blog Kathryn declares: Addiction drives people to do things they truly don’t want to doI realized: THIS IS ME AND FOOD! For more than thirty years, prompted by my first binge at sixteen, I’d been up and down the scale twenty-five pounds at least ten times.  I’d always pegged myself as your garden-variety yo-yo dieter. In truth, I used food the way a drunk scarfs Ketel One: too eagerly, too often, in amounts too large and to no good end.

It would seem an interesting or even impossible leap from girl with eating disorder to boy on basketball team at a barely-there college in eastern Pennsylvania, but for Kathryn, no. Did you notice earlier when she wrote, Well, my take away, and my ENVY … ? Well, here is MY envy: that she indeed could make this jump so effortlessly, especially without ever having, you know, BEEN to Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales in Center Valley, Pa.  That’s leaping ability. The woman must have like a 38-inch vertical.

It is one of the great regrets of my life, Kathryn continued in her email, that my father’s dying (yes, we share that) triggered my eating disorder that then derailed the end of high school and my college career.

Instead of doing, I conclude she means in leaping, what I and so many of us at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales did by being there then during the school’s make-it-up, try-it-out formative years: plunged in and made it matter, as Kathryn says. There’s a huge lesson here about acceptance and attitude. …

And then Kathryn ended by saying, perhaps concerned that she had wandered too far afield into a world she thinks she doesn’t understand: In my humble opinion.

Yeah, right. As I said: If only I could have thought to have thought of that about these CENTAUR SEASONS.

** Links to previous “Secrets of the Centaur” posts:


WHY US? WHY FIRST? Posted October 12, 2012.

BRICKS AND A BIRTHDAY   Posted October 22, 2012.

THE NIGHT THE CENTAURS MOVED THE BUS: Part Three of a Metaphor in Three Parts. Posted November 6, 2012.

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.

KEEP YOUR FOOT IN THAT BUCKET, STEVE! Posted December 10, 2012.

ON THE PASSING OF JACK KLUGMAN Posted December 28, 2012.

THE YEAR THE CENTAURS PLAYED THE FIGHTING IRISH (yes — in football!) Posted Janaury 7, 2013.

SLEEPING IN THE GYM, or “The Process of Becoming a Basketball Team” Posted January 17, 2013




What CENTAUR SEASONS Can Teach the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers U. … Seriously Posted April 5, 2013







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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.