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The old coach enjoys moment back in time

Don Carlson felt like Marty McFly in the DeLorean time machine when he made it back from the 30-year Lady Bruins basketball alumni game back at St. Bede Academy on Feb. 16.

The “old coach,” as he likes to say, was the founding father of the program in 1982-83, coming over from the varsity boys’ team at the request of his daughter, Dawn, now the volleyball coach at the Academy.

He was very successful coaching boys basketball for years. From day one, however, the new Lady Bruins coach told the girls he would treat them as basketball players, not girls basketball players, but basketball players. He told them they wouldn’t be compared to boys.

Carlson figures the game had to be a historic event, saying, “I’m certain that there have been only a very few 30-year alumni games in the history of Illinois basketball.”

It also made for a great homecoming night for him and everyone who came to play or watch. It was a nice turnout with all six of the varsity team from the inaugural season in 1982-83 and 56 former Lady Bruins in all.

“They are all outstanding people and do still remember how to play the game. They reminded me of a lot of experiences we had that I had put on the back shelf,” he said. “It was super to talk to some of their parents, who supported them and the teams when we were starting out and as we continued. Those trips to Mahomet, Olympia, Prairie Central, etc. were long and we had trouble competing against those Corn Belt teams, who had kids that played together since the fifth grade and our girls were on their first basketball team as a freshman in high school.”

The night also brought back a special guest in Mike Kane of Princeton, who officiated the first St. Bede Lady Bruins basketball game on Jan. 6, 1983, against Princeton.

“It was so caring of Mike to attend this game. He came over on his own since he had read about the game in the BCR. The girls and I were all impressed that he cared enough to do this,” Carlson said.

Another Annawin: What an impressive showing by the Annawan Bravettes this season, especially in the postseason. How many teams could they lose their star player to a severe ankle injury, All-Stater Celina VanHyfte, who’s averaging 22.5 ppg and is such an imposing force inside, and come away with a Supersectional victory. It was equally impressive to see VanHyfte, grind out two games at State. You couldn’t tell it from her play in the third-place game, scoring 16 points. Behind the scenes, I saw her grab crutches after the game.

They’ve always had tough kids at Annawan. There’s just something about that school ever since I’ve been following sports in these parts that makes their teams so successful in everything they play.

It is surprising, though, with all their great teams over the years, that this was their first girls’ team to make State and their boys go to State the first time in 2009.

Congrats to the Bravettes.

World Games: Princeton’s Nathan Warren has returned home from the Special Olympics Winter Games in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. He claimed silver medals in both the 400 and 200 meter snowshoe races.

Way to go Nathan.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com

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