Thanksgiving. It’s a day we gather with family and friends around the bounty of the table. Plenty of turkey with all the fixings get consumed, folks gather in the living room watching the seemingly endless amount of football on the tube. Others may find a cozy spot to spend some time in an over-eating induced coma for awhile.
Most importantly, Thanksgiving is the time we give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. The holiday began informally in 1621 with the pilgrims celebrated the harvest and gave thanks to God. It wasn’t until 1863 that Thanksgiving became a national holiday through a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln.
While our celebrations look much different than those of the early settlers, the theme is still very much the same. We set aside time to reflect upon and give thanks for the many blessings we have. Some of these include thankfulness for family, good health, means to support oneself, and for God himself.
As I reflect and give thanks for all that is good in my life, I also give thanks for another avenue of my life. It’s been a constant for many winters, a staple for when the temperatures can drop well below zero and the snow piles up by the foot. That constant is basketball. I enjoy other sports and follow what is in season such as football in the fall and baseball in the spring. Basketball, however, has always held a place of prominence for me.
Unlike many Mainers who dread the onset and looming length of winter, I actually look forward to the season. When you are inside a gymnasium with the basketball bouncing and cheering fans in the stands, you tend to forget about the frightful weather outside. While over the past couple weeks we have been treated to plenty of preseason hors d’oeurves, the main course begins Friday night with regular season match-ups dotting the state.
This game invented by Dr. James Naismith nearly 125 years ago has provided some of the best memories of my life. I’ll never forget being at the Cumberland County Civic Center the night South Portland outlasted my alma mater Bangor in five overtimes for the 1992 state championship. To this day that’s probably the best high school basketball game ever played in this state. I had the opportunity to broadcast the 2001 state title game when Joe Campbell laid in Zac Ray’s long range shot at the gun to lift Bangor to the championship over a powerhouse Deering squad.
Basketball to me over the years has been about much more than the games themselves. The game has served as a primary social outlet. Many of my good friends have some sort of connection to the game of basketball. It has been the tie that binds over many cold winter days and nights.
The game of basketball has also provided a number of mentors to me. People such as the late Ron Brown, and coaches Bob Cimbollek and Roger Reed have served to give guidance along life’s journey.
Basketball has served to give me a greater sense of purpose. While I has not athletically gifted in the least, I’ve been fortunate enough to wear many hats in the game I love. I’ve thoroughly embraced each role whether as a coach, scorekeeper, statistician, broadcaster, or columnist.
As I reflect back during this Thanksgiving weekend, I also want to give thanks to God for the wonderful family I have been fortunate to be a part of. I have a great job that I thoroughly enjoy, which also provides for all my needs. I have a roof over my head and don’t have any worries about where my next meal is coming from. I enjoy good health. Last but not least, I give thanks to a simple game that has given me such joy over the years. Thank you, Dr. Naismith.