Alumni games leave reporter feeling nostalgic

Posted: Sunday, December 28, 2003

I can't tell you who won any of the alumni games played over the weekend, for a couple reasons.

First, I was unlucky enough to play in one, I'm not happy with the outcome, so I won't discuss it.

Second, I wasn't really watching, even though I was supposed to be covering both the hockey game and basketball tournament for the sports page.

What I was doing was the same thing as everyone else hanging out.

The games gave me a great chance to see people I haven't seen, well, since last year at about this time. At the Sports Center on Friday night, there were more people walking around the top concourse than were sitting in the stands. It was like high school all over again, everyone wandering around, gossiping, checking each other out and trying to look cool.

It's not that the hockey game was bad, but the action off the ice was just a lot more intriguing:

"They've got how many kids now?"

"You still haven't graduated?"

"When did they let him out of jail?"

There was also lots of talk about old teachers (who seem to get less and less old each year for some reason), new jobs and current significant others. Basically, it was like a high school reunion without the name tags.

Over at the basketball tournament the next day, it was a lot more of the same, with the notable exception that I somehow ended up playing in what's called the "old timers" game.

Now, even though my back usually feels like it's 40, and I've got the body of a 50-year old computer programmer, I thought having to play in the old timers game was a little much. However, since they needed another guy, I reluctantly agreed.

This was a good thing, especially after I watched the "young-timers," a group of guys a year or two out of high school who have yet to go through a life stage I like to call "getting fat."

Had I been forced to play with them, there's a good chance someone would have gotten the opportunity to pull off an extremely rare double-double: the one where you dunk on someone and give them mouth-to-mouth in the same game. That would not have been a good thing.

So I chugged up and down the court with my fellow old timers, made a fool of myself, and even managed to make a couple shots.

The best part of playing was I got to hear my name announced over the p.a. system by Dale Sandahl, something I hadn't heard since the days when I ruled the court as a reserve back-up for the back-up sixth man.

After our game against the SoHi old-timers was over (I seem to forget who won), I sat around with a couple of the other players on the stage at the far end of the gym.

I think that was the most nostalgic part of the whole weekend for me. That stage holds a lot of memories for me. I remember sitting there as a wide-eyed seventh grader in 1991, screaming my lungs out for a Kenai girls team that would go on to win the state title.

I remember sitting there before football games, getting taped up and listening to pep talks from the coaches.

I even remember sleeping there before school, dreading the sound of the bell that would send me drowsily down the hall to the science lab (where I would normally fall right back asleep, but that's another story).

As I sat there Saturday me and an old buddy of mine did the same thing we would have done had we been 16 again: we talked about the girls. What we said, like the outcome of the old timers game, isn't really that important. What was important was that I, for a few brief moments, felt like a gawky high school kid again.

That's the point of having alumni games. It's not to prove who went on to become the best post-high school athletes. It's just a chance to have a little fun, see a bunch of people you won't see for at least another year, and try not to break anything.

OK, ok, so SoHi did win the old-timers game. But I can draw some comfort from the fact that, even though I probably won't get to see a lot of my old friends for another year, I won't have to see any of those guys, either.

Matt Tunseth is a reporter at the Peninsula Clarion. Comments may be e-mailed to clarion@

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