It was a phenomenal Friday night at the Pembroke-Kearsarge basketball game, where Athletic Director Marty Brown, Boosters President Bob Williams, Coach Nate Camp and the entire KRHS basketball community couldn’t have been more gracious hosts of Hoops For Heroes. A true class act up there in North Sutton … not surprisingly.
It’s one of my favorite places to be, the general New London area. I grew up in Newport, two towns and one glorious Lake Sunapee to the east, and then slowly migrated to New London itself back in my, shall we say, less polite days. Ghee-Ghee (that’s my mom) and Grampa Paul (that’s my stepfather) are long-time New Londonites, as is (more recently) my sister Laura and soon-to-be-expanded-by-one-little-Saints-fan Lorio family.
The town has always felt like home to me, and that was never more true than tonight.
“This is going to work however you want it to work,” longtime AD Marty Brown told me the minute I walked into the gym. And that’s exactly what happened, plus.
As I was walking through the locker room prior to the game, Coach Camp — who high schooled in Lebanon, played his college ball right up the road at Colby-Sawyer and has just this year taken over for Marty at Kearsarge — stopped me, told his team about the cause and allowed me to say a few words before each one of them gave me a handshake. Didn’t take long to realize this was a great group of kids, which Nate would reiterate later.
Halftime could only have gone better had I been a little less choke-ish at the start. With three junior varsity players rebounding two balls, I missed the first four before making 50 of the next 53. I’ll take it, but I definitely continued to cement my reputation as a better-when-not-in-front-of-an-audience kind of shooter (I’m hoping I evolve). It was a very supportive crowd, even during the ugly start. Immediately after the shooting, Bobby brought me to the scorer’s table, where he presented HFH with one of those big, fancy, looks-like-we-just-won-the-Masters checks … from the Kearsarge Booster Club, to Hoops For Heroes, in the amount of an incredibly generous $500. It was made even more special by the fact that The Beautiful Heth, Noah, Mason and Rosie were all able to join me.
After the game, we got a team photo, then got the business of shooting, and with a good group of 8 or 10 rebounders cycling through a two-ball routine, we added 1,200 to our halftime 50 in about an hour.
This has become my favorite aspect of this venture: the sharing in it. Tonight was particularly spectacular in that way. The Veterans who stood for the crowd that cheered. The band members and their halftime encouragement for the guy who couldn’t shoot straight. The coach who told me that 15 years from now his players probably won’t remember a 15-point loss to Pembroke but might remember being part of this collective thank you to real American heroes.
It was truly a privilege to be in North Sutton tonight.