Anyone got a can of Pledge and an old sock? It’s amazing how much dust can accumulate on these things if you leave them alone for a few weeks.
And away we go …
I now measure all time in terms of either BBB or ABB, as in … Before Bell Buckle, or After Bell Buckle.
That said, we’re now roughly 20 days ABB, and we’ve got some serious catching up to do in terms of chronicling our experience in this space. So let’s go back to 1 Day ABB and hit the fast forward button.
2-5 ABB (January 31-February 3) … You remember the days of carbon copies? Write on the top sheet, and it goes through to the next sheet and the next sheet and the next sheet. (Exactly. Who needs Xerox?) We had four straight days of lonely 1,500s at the ECS gym. 627,007.
6 ABB (February 4) … A Friday afternoon game at Alton Central School, where they passed the bucket for about $150 and we dropped in another 1,500 with the help of Officer Sean Sullivan, Connor Leggett, Olivia Shelton, Christina D’Agostino, Sydney Leggett, Shannon Mercer and the Harris girls, Alex Julia and Madison. Thanks for the invite, Sydney. 628,507.
9-11 ABB (February 7-9) … Alone at ECS for 1,000. Alone at ECS for 1,000. Alone at ECS for 1,500. 636,007.
12 ABB (February 10) … Now this was a great day. My good friend Paul Sargeant, a board member at the Boys & Girls Club of Manchester, recently invited me to spend part of an afternoon with the kids at the club, where the motto is “Be Great,” and they demonstrably take that to heart. I was welcomed by the club’s athletic director, Natalie Jutras, a former hoop star at Con-Val Regional High School and St. Anselm College, along with Executive Director Gary Frost and board member (and Merrimack College Hall of Famer, who still holds the single game record of 52 points ) Steve McMahon.
Now that I’ve got the introductions out of the way …
I said a few words, in part pointing out that I never did face the same military responsibility growing up as some of these kids — with family members serving overseas — and it is with that in mind that I am trying to honor those serving, and their families, with our project. They were great listeners, and when we did get to shooting, they were tremendous rebounders. With Edgardo Gonzalez, Terrance Dery, Jeremyah Rivera, Juan Casanova, Javen Morse, Michael DeJesus and Ms. Jutras herself all set to jump in, I told them 1,500 made shots was the goal, and we’d try to do it inside of an hour and 15 minutes.
We did it in about 59 minutes. 637,507.
13 ABB (February 11) … In my favorite new tie-dyed T-shirt (“Boys & Girls Club of Manchester: The Positive Place For Kids”), it was 1,500 down at ECS. 639,007.
14 ABB (February 12) … We got together with Jim and Chandler Bean (and a little bit of Noah) Saturday afternoon to make the bulk of the days shots: 1,250 down, and then …
Back on the very gym floor where I was a scrawny, nervous, defensive-minded and all-but-useless teenager playing for the Newport High Tigers in the mid-1980s, I was invited by rec. director P.J. Lovely to play a role in the Newport Winter Carnival: making 250 at halftime of the Firefighters vs. Teachers benefit basketball game.
Newport is an amazing town. Probably left for dead by some within the last decade or two, it is now home to an overflow of community-mindedness. The Almost Anything Goes Raft Race. Newport’s Biggest Loser. Dancing With the Newport Stars. The list goes on, and includes the Newport Winter Carnival.
As I remember it, there wasn’t nearly as much interest when I was a kid, but they come out in droves now, and this year with a mustachioed twist: an attempt at the record for the most participants in a mustache contest.
It wasn’t even close. Old record: 251. New record: 462. The winner, by way more than a whisker … Newport.
Accompanied by my step-papa and Navy Veteran “Grampa Paul,” I was proud to be home, at Towle Elementary School, a half-mile from the house where I grew up, across the street from the green where we turned our tassels, and next door to Eric Lemay’s old pad.
There was P.J., Brian and Diane Coronis, Mr. and Mrs. Demeis, Mrs. Marcotte, Glenn “The Blur” Halleck, Jason Fish, Dave McCrillis, Kenny and Becky Merrow, Jimma Wade, Bobby and Becky and Eliza Bates, Dan Cherry and, man oh man, Timmy “Psycho” Spanos toting the ref’s whistle. This was going to be something.
Brian, one of the world’s best friends to more people than you can shake a hair on (sorry, inside joke), was helping P.J. run the show, and it would be his son, the Great Spencer Coronis, who would be handling the handoffs when it came time to shoot. Brian and I had a pregame discussion that included a conversation about the amount of time we’d put on the game clock to make 250 … I said 11:00, to be safe. He said 10:00, to be challenging. I left it up to him.
When halftime came, I was happy to see 11:00 up there. Two-fifty in 10 minutes is doable when the palms aren’t sweating, but they were, so I figured 11 was probably about right.
P.J. said a few words about Hoops For Heroes and presented us with close to $900 — thanks Coronis Market, American Legion Post 25 and Paul Krause — for the cause, after which I asked that the Veterans in the crowd stand and be recognized. They did, and the applause for them was thick and sustained, just as I suspected it would be. Newport has always loved its soldiers.
I then stepped to the line — 11:00 on the clock and 250 to make — and with a dozen or so rebounders taking turns and Spencer to my right, I started shooting, the audience got to counting, and the ball got to … clanking.
Yup, I was WAY more nervous than I expected to be. So on and on it went — four in, one out, three in, one out, five in, one out, etc. — until there I was at 225 made, and there the clock stood at 1 minute and counting. Yikes.
At that point, things just had to be fast.
“We’d better start flying,” I said to Spencer. He nodded, probably thinking, “Shut up and make a few.”
And then, suddenly, we were rolling. The final 10 or 11 can be seen here.
15-17 ABB (February 13-15) … 1,000 at Epsom Central, and 1,500 at Epsom Central, and 1,500 at Epsom Central. 644,507.
18 ABB (February 16) … The plan was to break out the Shoot-A-Way self-rebounding thang after Noah’s practice, but instead, with the team only using half the court, Mrs. Kara Bean, mother of Chandler, and Mr. Layne Thomas, father of Jack, joined me at the other end of the floor and we spent that entire practice racking up a bunch of foul shots. My GOODNESS, I love shooting at the side hoops (So forgiving!). 646,007.
19-20 ABB (February 17-18) … 1,500 with Aerosmith yesterday morning, and 1,000 with Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuce this morning, and whaddya know … 647,507.
We’ll be on a plane to Northwest Arkansas later today, shooting in Bentonville with the Upward Basketball League tomorrow, back home on Sunday.
See you again here soon, dust-free, I hope.