THE FIRST 1,000 POINTS ARE ALWAYS THE HARDEST
Posted on Feb 05, 2013
Left not written forty years ago in yesterday’s “One Disaster After Another” memory blog about our game against Messiah College is the fact that Dennis Ramella, senior guard and co-captain, became the Centaurs’ first 1,000-point man in Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales’s history. I anticipated this ommission two weeks ago in “CENTAUR STORY: I Should Have Been a Much Better Teammate.”
It deserves another mention here, post-game.
I was standing near Dennis on the Messiah College court when the 1,000-point basketball finally fell through the hoop. He let out a whoop and gotcha arm chop that could have cut a tree in half. The last fifty points, he told me recently — laughing (sort of) — had been hard coming.
If somewhere a long time ago sports and athletics were included in the educational curriculum because they were deemed valuable teaching tools, then Dennis took full advantage of their learning potential. As Dennis in his CENTAUR STORY made abundantly clear.
Here are a few things that did NOT make it into Dennis’s 1,000-point story but also deserve mention.
Seven years later, almost to the day of the 1,000th point, Dennis underwent open-heart surgery. A wisdom-tooth infection had migrated to a congenital pinhole in his aorta. Not much time was left on the clock.
Which, in its own perspective-clarifying way, leads to: Dennis wanted it known that his 1,000 points is NOT something he spends ANY time thinking about, AT ALL. Really. I’d called and asked.
And finally, this. In much the same way when he took our 1,000-point conversation in an unexpected direction, he did it a second time when he said: “I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason. I’ve always felt that way.”
Only he wasn’t talking about his 1,000 points. He was talking now about the very fact that he’d wound up at A.C. in the first place.
“I went there for a reason,” he said. And turned out it wasn’t for the basketball and it wasn’t for the academics — even if “the Oblates were outstanding teachers.”
No, he said. “I believe I was directed there in order to develop the spiritual part of myself that had been missing.”
It is worth noting here that Dennis is NOT the first person I’ve talked to who brought up some version of this theme. More than a few have. Even a guy or two who by his own mission “would have the roof fall down” on him if he stepped inside a Catholic church, has talked about how something of the Selesian Philosophy of Christian Humanism has stuck like glue for all these years — and he’s glad for it.
As for Dennis, it was more than just something. Growing up, he said, he’d always gone to church and all that, but he’d also always gone to public schools. “There was a part mising,” he said. He found it at Allentown College of St. Francis de Sales.
“Lots of kids had already gone to Catholic schools, so maybe they found it boring to go to theology classes. I found it really interesting and really stimulating. I loved Fr. [Bernard] Wetzels’ class. I liked sitting down and talking with him, and Fr. [Robert] Devine. We’d talk about all kinds of things. It didn’t have to be theological. But they were giving me something that I lacked. And I feel it is the most important part of my life right now.”
The school being the school it was then — lost in some cornfields, everyone thisclose in one small place — such interaction was more than just possible, it was impossible to avoid and surely part of the reason to be there.
“It was magical,” Dennis said. “I don’t want to get too melodramatic here, but it was almost a Camelot atmosphere. There were 127 in my graduating class, and I knew everyone of them. That’s the special thing that Allentown gave me.”
Some quid pro quo for the his 1,000 points. Not a bad trade-off at all.
IN ANOTHER CENTAUR STORY, ANOTHER CENTAUR ALSO DECLARES THAT WE ALL ENDED UP AT ALLENTOWN COLLEGE FOR A REASON.
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.×