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Crawford's return home was 'special little thing'

January 13, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

WILLIAMSPORT - Brooke Crawford realizes that in a grandmother's love is wisdom.

"Nanny always told me to appreciate the little things," she said of her grandmother, who passed away recently. "She was my biggest fan. She was a semipro basketball player, so she knew what she was talking about."

Nanny proved it on Wednesday. The first-year Tuscarora coach brought her Titans to Williamsport High School to face the Wildcats to play the makeup of Dec. 5's snowed-out season opener. That little instance would have been doubly special for Crawford because it would have been her varsity coaching debut.

Even with the postponement, Wednesday's game had a special meaning. Crawford - who is probably better remembered as Brooke Weimer - returned to Williamsport to coach against the school and in the gym where she starred and spent so much time just seven years ago.

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"That would have been a fairy tale - to come back to my alma mater and coach my first varsity game," said Crawford, who was The Herald-Mail's 2001 Small School Player of the Year. "God decided to make it snow that day so this won't be my first game. Williamsport was a special place for me. I loved my teammates and I loved playing here."

It took a string of unique circumstances to give Crawford, who is married to Kevin Crawford, another Williamsport graduate, the opportunity to coach at and against Williamsport.

After playing for and graduating from McDaniel College, Crawford searched for a teaching position in Washington and Frederick counties. The right fit for her physical education degree came at Tuscarora Elementary School.

"I always wanted to teach phys ed," said the two-time Herald-Mail All-Area player. "I was fortunate enough to know what I wanted to do so early. This was the best for me and the school is right next to Tuscarora High School."

That made it easy for Crawford to accept the job as an assistant coach for the previous two seasons before the Titans' main position opened.

"I became friends with the former coach," Crawford said. "She had a baby son 1 1/2 years ago. She decided she wanted to continue coaching until her first group graduated as seniors and then she wanted to be a mother to her son."

Crawford took some time to consider the position, being a newlywed herself, but decided to take the job.

"The time seemed right right now," Crawford said. "I got married 1 1/2 years ago and we will be building a house and planning to start a family, so it seemed like the right time now. (Kevin) is my assistant coach, so we get the chance to spend more time together when he comes to practices."

Crawford took over the young and athletic team that she enjoys coaching. She admits her stories of Williamsport were downplayed and took a backseat to tales of her times at McDaniel leading up to Wednesday's retro trip, which was scheduled before Crawford took the job.

"I tried to keep it under wraps," she said. "(Kevin) told them about us being from Williamsport and about it some. Still, this was special."

The things that made Williamsport special didn't change. The small crowd was laced with family, friends and her former coaches to watch and greet Crawford and back the Wildcats.

"It has always been a close-knit thing," Crawford said. "When I played, my family and friends came to all my games, both here and at McDaniel. Today, there was a lot of people here. A lot of them were out in the hall to say hi and give me hugs."

In the end, the night wasn't as special as it could have been. The Titans were overwhelmed by a Williamsport team that played a team game in a 61-44 loss. Crawford admitted that Tuscarora came to Williamsport with every intention of winning and fell short.

Taking the loss was tough, but Crawford had the pregame thoughts of her grandmother to help keep everything in perspective.

"That's why this is so special," Crawford said beforehand. "My whole family showed up to watch, just like they did when I played. Nanny passed away 1 1/2 months ago, but before she did, she told me that she was still going to be at all my games. She was here ... she just had a better view."

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