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‘Mini-Remembering Titans experience’

Commentary

August 25, 2013
Dave Crumrine (sports@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

I've always believed that some of the most important lessons taught in schools were through extra-curricular activities - particularly athletics.

When former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter called out his older brother Butch (himself a former NBA player and coach) as his "hero" in his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech recently, I was reminded where that philosophy may have taken root.

While I never knew Cris, my brother and I played elementary school basketball with Butch in 1969 in Troy, Ohio.

In 1967, the city had built a new elementary school that brought together two different parts of town. The assimilation didn't always go smoothly in those first couple of years, but the end result, I believe, was that we all learned that maybe we weren't so different after all.

In many ways the whole thing was, indeed, a mini-"Remember the Titans" experience.

My family moved to Blair County several years later, about the same time the Carters moved on to Middletown, Ohio, where they found great athletic success.

I've never had contact with Butch since then, but the whole experience was always bigger than one person anyway.

Many of the friendships forged in that elementary (and later junior high) experience were celebrated again as recently as several years ago when I was privileged to be able to attend our high school class reunion.

And the ingrained lessons that athletics teach - hard work, sportsmanship, self-discipline and bringing people together - still remain a core belief that more than once in a while helps guide daily decisions.

Maybe an even bigger "rubbing elbows" Hall of Fame induction memory - and a better story - would have been the time my wife, Dawn, and her father, Buck Ray, and I traveled to Canton in 1981 to watch the Cleveland Browns play in the Hall of Fame game and ended up literally rubbing elbows sitting in the honoree section at the game with George Blanda, Willie Davis, Jim Ringo and Red Badgro.

A better story for sure, but the only lesson learned from that experience is one I taught rather than had to learn - that just because there's some big guy sitting with the guests of honor doesn't mean he should be asked to autograph the game program along with the inductees.

Dave Crumrine is the principal at Central High School.

 
 

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