One of the greatest benefits of sports is that they provide many hours of memories to share with our friends and family for years to come. Some memories are local, for example, this years girls basketball trip to Gill Coliseum for the state tournament; other memories are national, as when two of the greatest basketball players ever, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson met in the college finals in 1979. Some sports memories are happy, as when Roger Bannister broke the four minute mile barrier in 1954; other are pathetic or sad, as when Pete Rose was banned from professional baseball in 1989 for gambling on the sport.
The other day I sat down to talk with two veterans of local sports, Jerry Westerholm and John Beneke. Westerholm taught at Seaside High School for 31 years, and for 25 of those he was the Athletic Director. Beneke was a graduate of SHS, and for many years was the maintenance supervisor of Seaside School District, and a baseball coach during the summer. Both men were active in sports during their high school careers.
It didnt take much to get both men reminiscing about the past glories of Seaside High School sports, especially the glory days of the late 1950s, when the Gulls traveled clear across the state to beat Vale in the state championship game. The sky was clear, but the temperature was about 15 degrees, says Beneke. The field was nice and green, but it was so hard I bounced off it.
Seaside used a single wing T-offense, says Westerholm. The center would hike the ball to either running back.
It made their 200 lb. defensive tackles look silly, adds Beneke.
It was hard for these two men to pick out the greatest moments in Seaside High School sports history. They mentioned Ken Carpenter of the class of 1946, who played for OSU, was an all Pac10 player, and ended up playing for both the Canadian Football League and was a running back for the Cleveland Browns in 1960.
Another highlight was the 1994, state football championship against Brookings at Junction City that was coached by Stubby Lyons and featured Ben Archibald who went on to football fame at BYU, overcame a horrific leg injury, and ended up a free agent offensive tackle at the New Orleans Saints.
If you get us started, we could go all night, says Beneke, as he and Westerholm rattle off a list of names of past players faster than I can keep up with pen and paper. They are clearly in their element.
This conversation told me something very important about sports in general. While I may glory in the memory of the 1980 USA hockey team that somehow beat the Soviet team in the Olympics, or dream about Tiger Woods becoming the youngest Masters champion in 1997, the best sports memories are local memories. The young people today, who are out there swinging bats, diving in pools, shooting hoops, or jumping over hurdles will have years and years of great memories that will never leave them, because they will pass them onto their kids and grandkids.
My own high school sports memories include both the glorious and the inglorious: Coming in first at the district cross country meet; being covered head to toe with freezing mud during a football game; having the worst sunburn of my life after a golf match, and being kicked out of a basketball game for arguing with a ref. My best memory is that of my mother, however, who was always there in the stands cheering, encouraging me to do better.
Jerry Westerholm couldnt have put it better, We always stressed that there is more value in athletics than winning. Perhaps the lifetime of wonderful memories that sports provide is the best value of all.