Monday, December 15, 2008

1975 Bi-Stake Holiday Tournament MVP

This photo of me has an interesting story. My mother took it in January 1975, shortly after our ward young men's basketball team won a two-stake, double-elimination tournament during the holiday break. I received the most valuable player award, which was not only a very exciting thing to me personally but one of the few times I can remember receiving, as a young man, positive feedback resulting from a church-related event or activity. I was a fifteen-year-old sophomore in high school (still about eight months away from his first set of contact lenses) who had, after some dithering, decided not to try out for the high school basketball team. (It was a decision about which I felt quite a bit of regret until just a few years ago, when I finally realized that it wouldn't have been worth the effort. Even if I'd played school ball, my high school had one of the best programs in New Mexico, blessed with both gifted star players [mostly jerks, unfortunately] and a lot of depth; I wouldn't have made the varsity team until I was a senior, and even then I wouldn't have played much.)  However, it meant a lot to me to be told I was a good player -- especially as a tenth-grader -- even if it was in the context of church ball.

The tournament itself was an adventure. Our first game was against 5th Ward (of the Albuquerque Stake) at the Haines Street chapel, which we won by, I think, six points after struggling against their full-court press. The next evening, we lost a close game to 7th Ward (of the East Stake) at the Eubank chapel, then immediately we had to rush back down to Haines Street to play 4th Ward (of the Albuquerque Stake) in a late losers-bracket game; I remember winning a real nail-biter on a teammate's late free throws. 7th Ward went on to lose to 8th Ward (our arch-rivals from the East Stake, and the ward with the most good-looking girls, including Dorine), so the next day we played 7th Ward one more time, again at the Eubank chapel, this time winning by a few points. That put us in the championship game against 8th Ward, although of course we needed to beat them twice to win the tournament. We won the first game at the Eubank chapel, but apparently no one had contemplated the need for an "if" game, as there was another activity scheduled at the Eubank building that afternoon, and the tournament organizers had to scramble to schedule the Haines building for the last game. We managed to win that game, too, which was a very sweet feeling -- made positively exquisite by my winning the MVP trophy.

After my mother shot the photo above with her Kodak Instamatic camera, that particular roll of film lay in a drawer, forgotten, for what must have been six years. I can remember coming home from my mission in late December 1980 and going with my mother, sometime in the next few days, to the old Skaggs drugstore down in Fair Plaza (at the intersection of San Pedro and Lomas in Albuquerque). Skaggs had some ridiculous special on film development and prints (something like a dollar a roll), so my mother took her old rolls down to have them all developed at once. Needless to say, the resulting pile of photos included this one -- time had caused the negative to fade somewhat, but it was an amazing feeling to see it, not knowing it existed, after six years! It brought back nice memories then, and it still does so today.