Archive for the ‘High School Sports’ Category

Chester’s Rondae Jefferson in action this past season. (Time Staff/Robert J. Gurecki)

Before the 2011-12 high school basketball season in the Philadelphia region even started, my dad and I promised ourselves we would go see Chester High School, the dynamite, nationally-ranked program that won the 2011 Pennsylvania AAAA championships, play at least once.As things go, of course, we never got the chance during the regular season, but when the playoff schedule broke there was a Saturday afternoon game set for nearby Norristown pitting Chester against another Philly-area powerhouse, Coatesville, in an early-round state tournament game.

Problem was that we had committed to volunteer at a Habitat For Humanity building site – in Coatesville – that day. I was horrified. How could we possibly miss this huge game? Couldn’t we volunteer another day? Why did we have to go THAT Saturday?

I begged and pleaded, tortured my brain into coming up with logical reasons to reschedule that my father would accept. I knew my mom was an easy mark, as usual, but the old man was a different story. He’s always about following through on commitments. I agree, but this was Chester vs. Coatesville!

I totally get that Habitat For Humanity is a very cool non-profit and one of the awesome things about it is the chance to interact with the actual prospective homeowners…but this was Chester vs. Coatesville. In the end, Mom caved, Dad didn’t and I resigned myself to missing the game and catching Chester later in the playoffs.

 What happened next, though,  was a little bit tough for me to take.

We arrived at the building site at 8 AM on a cold March morning ready, if not raring, to go. We started the day sweeping out garages, off-loading materials from a delivery truck and painting. As morning turned into afternoon while we were priming baseboard, the start time for the game was just a few hours away and I asked my Dad if we could get the foreman to dismiss us early.  I knew the answer would be no, but I kept asking because maybe if I annoyed him enough he might just give in and we could leave. It was a long-shot, but definitely worth the try.

Earlier in the day, we met the man whose house we were working on.  Can’t remember his name now, but he was a thin African-American guy who was in constant motion on the grounds, taking time to tell us about him and his wife, their jobs and how hard they had worked to not only get the money together to qualify for the mortgage but also to put in the man-hours necessary to close on the wonderfully inexpensive Habitat For Humanity house.

Cool guy.  Inspiring story.  Made us feel good about our time spent that winter Saturday.  As early afternoon moved toward mid-afternoon, I noticed our friend spending more time than usual around his truck in a manner that made me think he might be preparing to leave the site –probably to pick up more supplies, right?

Forget that…the guy was leaving! Heading to Norristown for the Coatesville-Chester game! I could hear him proclaiming to everyone within earshot, “Nobody in their right mind would miss this game!”

Whaaaaaaaat??? I’m here killing myself all day to help build this guy’s house and my Dad won’t let me ask to leave early to see the game? Who in this group is not in their right mind?  

I’ve been here for six hours without a break helping to build this dude’s house and HE’S going to the Chester-Coatesville game?  I’m painting this guy’s walls and he gets to see Rondae Jefferson (Chester’s Division I prospect) play. I’m moving cinder blocks among other heavy, possibly dangerous things, and he thinks he can just up and leave for the one game I’ve wanted to see since the beginning of the season? 

As he starts his truck, I’m picking up empty coffee cups and soda cans around this guy’s driveway, suppressing the urge to run over and beg him to take me…but I knew my parents would never let me go. They’d go on and on about commitments and responsibility and helping your fellow man.  The heck with that! They’re just not thinking straight.

As he drove off, I thought I would lose my mind. I mean I wasn’t really having the best day up to that point anyway, but this was just wrong on so many fronts. My parents tried to make up for it by taking me to a quick, late lunch at the best diner in Coatesville. Of course, the game was the main topic of conversation around the diner with everyone confident Coatesville would win a close one. I could barely eat – something rare for me.  I was so upset listening to these people go on and on about this game I was missing, the one everyone was predicting would be a game to remember!

Well, after all that, I ended up not missing much. The Chester Clippers blew out Coatesville by 45. I’m sure it was a good effort by Coatesville, but Chester is Chester and the Clippers eventually breezed through the state tournament, ultimately winning their second straight AAAA title.

I’m sure that my Habitat For Humanity friend enjoyed Chester vs. Coatesville……And, by now, he should be in the house, one that I played a small role in building.  I’ll be driving by someday soon to make sure that driveway area is still nice and neat and, if he’s outside mowing the lawn, I’ll have to stop and ask him how good Rondae Jefferson really is.  


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