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Be true to your school

February 02, 2001

Be true to your school



In Kevin Murphy's day as Williamsport basketball coach, nothing mattered more than teamwork and school pride.

He picked up on the ideals that were started by Glen Smith before him and turned them it what was the foundation of one big sneaker-wearing family. Very few members of that family were really related over those 20 years, at least by bloodlines.

Still, basketball was the common bond. And now, after all these years, it's time for the family to reunite in the name of teamwork and school pride.

Murphy organized a family reunion for Feb. 10, calling on the special talents and common link of 49 former Wildcat players to come back and play one more game for Williamsport in an alumni doubleheader to benefit the school's funding drive to build a new computer lab.

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For Murphy, who coached at Williamsport from 1977-96, it will be a time when nostalgia and need crosses paths.

"I miss these guys," he admits. "I don't know how much money we will make, but it will be fun to see them all again."

And hopefully profitable, too.

The men's alumni doubleheader is part of 30th anniversary celebration of the Williamsport High building. The games will feature players from the 1970s, 80s, 90s and the year 2000 coming together for fun and competition.

The first game, which begins at 6 p.m., will feature teams consisting of players from 1973-89. The 7:30 nightcap will feature players from the last 11 years of Wildcat basketball.

The players will be introduced between games. Admission to the benefit is $5 with all proceeds being used to fund the computer lab.

In an era when most graduates would rather never see the old high school again, the call for funding and competition conjured up some deep feelings and memories for some of the players.

"There's an old song from the 1950s called "Be True to Your School," said Jeff Cline, representing the 1974 team. "This is it. Playing basketball at Williamsport provided the values and discipline for life. It shows you what these coaches mean to you. I used to do some coaching and it's an honor when a kid comes back after a period of time and calls you 'Coach.' It means you had an affect on his life. It's a good feeling. We need to get those feelings back again."

"High school was a time when you played basketball and didn't have a care in the world," said Kollin Murphy of the 1995 team.

But while there's that feeling of civic pride and desire to give back to the school, there's more involved.

"We started this for two reasons," Kevin Murphy said. "We wanted to raise money for the lab, but we also wanted to have these guys come back and have some fun."

To some, no distance will keep them away. Mike Koch from the 1979 team will be coming back from Virginia Beach, Va. to participate.

And there are other motives for playing.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "I remember sitting and watching a lot of these guys play what back when I was this high," said Brad Weaver, a member of the 2000 team, while holding his hand at his waistline. "Now I'm going to get the chance to meet them and play with all of them."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "It was always a lot of fun to play the alumni and beat them when I was in school," Cline said. "Now I'm on the other side."

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> "I think it will be interesting to play against your old teammates. We always played with them, not against them."

The games will feature seven pairs of brothers returning to the Williamsport floor.

"This is a great chance to renew old acquaintances and friendships while reliving the camaraderie of playing together," Cline said. "And we will do it while raising money for a computer lab. It's something we can do for a good cause."

Anything can happen when 27 years of basketball history has a reunion. There will be a lot of talking and old war stories to go around.

Meanwhile, Kevin Murphy will be planning to provide one more thing to make it a successful benefit.

"I think we will need plenty of oxygen," he said.

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