Dan Capkin ’05 provided the following recap of Reunion Weekend 2008.
Players representing all generations of Lower Merion basketball streamed through the doors of the private bar room at Aldar Bistro Friday, June 6 to launch the first-ever alumni weekend. The room had an LM touch as it was decorated with maroon and white balloons and banners. A slideshow with photographs from eras past and present was shown on loop throughout the night giving alums another chance to take a short walk down memory lane. Waitresses walked around serving delicious appetizers as old buddies were given a chance to reconnect and reminisce about the glory days playing ball for Lower Merion. New relationships were formed between players old and new. Chatter, laughter, and smiles filled the room as the alums had some drinks and some laughs sharing their stories about their experiences. The night wound down around 10 o’clock because everybody had to get ready for the big alumni game early next morning.
The next morning players began filtering into the Main Gym for the last game to ever be played on the storied hardwood. The familiar sounds of balls bouncing, shots clanking and swishing, and cheers from the crowd echoed throughout the gym. The teams were divided up by graduation year, with the odd graduating years adorned in white jerseys and the even graduating years wearing the maroon. Tip-off was 11 am and following the jump ball, the alums played the way the Aces always do: hustling, diving for loose balls, and of course knocking down shots. The game got off to a fast start with both teams battling for the lead. It remained close throughout but in the end, the white team pulled out a 65-57 victory. Had there been an MVP award, it was clear that Guy Stewart would have taken home the hardware as he showed old men can still play hitting threes, dropping in floaters, and dishing out dimes in leading the White to victory. The gym was sweltering due to the heat wave leaving everyone drenched in sweat, but everyone left happy knowing they got to play with all their old teammates for one last time in the gym that holds so many memories. (And happy that they made it out in one piece!)
After a lot of Advil, icy hot and stretching the alums returned to Lower Merion for the final event of the weekend: a family barbeque and Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Guests and their families dined in the air-conditioned Lower Merion Administration building and in tents outside the lobby. Panels lined the walls of the lobby with collages of pictures from all the different eras of Lower Merion basketball. Finally, it was time for the ceremony and all the guests filed down the “Walk of Fame” path into the auditorium. Master of Ceremonies Jeremy Treatman began with a video chronicling the different eras of Lower Merion basketball. The video consisted of interviews with former players, thoughts about what Lower Merion basketball means to everyone, debates about which is the best team in Lower Merion history, and a top 10 list of plays in the Downer era. The top play ending up being from 1996, when Kobe Bryant did an in-and-out dribble through three Chester players and finished it with an earth-shattering tomahawk dunk.
Doug Young '94 then talked about the Hall of Fame and each of the inductees in attendance came to the podium to receive their award. Members of the Hall of Fame committee as well as family of the honorees helped introduce each of the honorees. Representing legendary Coach William Anderson were Buddy Durham and Robin Dibble, his niece and nephew. Representing the 1933 state title team was Garth Poorman ‘33, grandson of Sturgis Poorman, a member of the ’33 team. Representing Dutch Sivertsen ’42 was his daughter Linda Hultquist. The next honoree, Harry Middleton ’42, was in attendance and joined at the event by his wife Betty. Greer Heindel ’43 was represented by his son, Greer, Jr. Mitch McDaniel ’63 was represented by teammates Guy Stewart ’65 and Doc Foster ’63. Billy Holland ’69 was in attendance and introduced by his daughter, Chala. Wendell Holland ’70 was in attendance and introduced by teammate Rick Carson ’72. Next up to the podium was Sam Brown ’76, who was introduced by Joe Obrant ’76. Kevin Lonesome ’76, was introduced by Darrell Holland ’75. The final two honorees – Jim Brogan ’76 and Kobe Bryant ’96 – sent video acceptance speeches which were shared with guests. (Brogan was attending his sister’s wedding and Bryant is currently participating in the NBA Finals.)
All of the inductees demonstrated humility and gratitude for the award despite their great contributions to the Lower Merion program. The weekend came to a close as the ceremony ended. Thanks to all who attended the event and made it possible and thanks to all alumni who were unable to attend but contributed financial support and helped spread the word.
By all accounts, the event was a huge success and many alumni are already asking about next year’s Reunion. See you in 2009!
Photos of the weekend are now posted on aceshoops.com. Visit the photo gallery and click on "Alumni Reunion."