On a hot, humid July evening in 1967, this then 18-year-old graduate of Huntingdon High School and freshman basketball player to be at Shippensburg State College was excited.
The next morning, Juniata College was opening its first summer basketball camp for high school players with Louisiana State coach Press Maravich in charge.
Of course, his famous son, "Pistol Pete," was being highlighted. Coming off a season averaging 43.6 points per game at LSU, the Aliquippa native was on his way to becoming the NCAA's all-time scoring leader and an NBA all-star.
My hope was to go to the camp and see the flamboyant 6-foot-5 Pete in action.
With the oppressive heat - there was no air conditioning in our home back then - and anticipation of the coming morning, sleep was hard to come by.
Around 2 a.m., I gave up trying to sleep and decided to take a stroll around the neighborhood.
Juniata College, only two blocks away, was a natural part of my walk. As I neared the campus, I could hear the sound of a dribbling basketball breaking the quiet, still air.
Approaching the Kennedy Gym, I stood in the open doorway and was amazed to see at the other end of the floor - the future Hall of Famer practicing jump shots. He had filled ball racks in each corner, both wings and the top of the key, and with the sweat just dripping off him, the mop-haired Pete (with his famous droopy, gray socks) was going from corner to corner draining shot after shot.
After eventually seeing me, we made introductions, and Pete invited me to play "Horse."
For about an hour, we shot away. No, I did not win any games, but I did get him to "s" a couple of times.
During our shooting, he told me the late night/early morning was his favorite practice time. He could really concentrate while not being interrupted.
About 3:30 a.m.,we called it quits, but Pete told me to be sure to come back at 9 a.m. because he was opening the camp with an exhibition for the campers.
I did and what a show "the Pistol" enthusiastically put on for the high schoolers. His array of shoots, dribbling and passing drills was awesome, and the campers gave him a thunderous standing ovation.
Later, when I got into coaching, I always tried to impress upon my players the values of practice, dedication and love of the game - attributes of Pete.
Although many thought Pete Maravich was a natural, his success was the result of extraordinary effort to hone his skills. Through my playing years and coaching career, notes from my "middle-of-the-night shooting buddy" were always appreciated.
He died early, at the age of 40 in 1988, but many hot summer nights bring back this vivid memory for me.
John Los retired from coaching at Huntingdon Area High School in 2002, then coached the team again in 2009. He posted a career record of 292-191 and was inducted into the Huntingdon County Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.
n n n
Because Voice of the Fan recognizes that many local readers have met, interacted or been friends with famous sports figures, we are introducing a new feature, "Rubbing Elbows."
Be it from a chance meeting or maybe when you were securing an autograph or maybe you went to school with someone who went on to make his mark nationally in sports, we're interested in your story.
Please limit your story to 200-250 words and feel free to include a photo. Or maybe some of you would just like to submit a photo with some basic information and don't necessarily want to tell the story. That's fine, too.
For more information, call Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel at 946-7527 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.