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Spilled Milk and Skinned Knees

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Basketball... Clark Fork style

Got some? Get some? Either way the Steelers got what they wanted. Two Superbowl rings in four years and six rings all time now sets them alone at the top.

That is not why I’m here today however. Something else is about to take place and it happens in the month of March. Something happens that magically finds a way to make alcoholic beverages disappear. Beer and whiskey are plentiful, however, they are not accompanied by Leprechauns, lucky charms or shamrocks. I am Irish but this event I am excited for is not St. Patrick’s Day.

Here we have a hardwood court, a bracket and one goal, to win. I guess you could say there is some madness for this event in March. However this isn’t the college basketball tournament. It’s another outing that some of you might not know about, the Clark Fork Alumni Tournament. Throughout the years these games of basketball (and volleyball) have evolved from a simple weekend of mildly competitive old men, to a variety of players old and young who will do anything it takes to bring home that first place hat.

Let me recall my first year of playing throughout this weekend. It was my senior year in high school. The tournament was created for the high school’s alumni to come and participate but since the seniors’ basketball season is just over, they are allowed to participate as well.  There are paid referees there that keep the peace between teams but it’s fair to say that they relax with the ‘official’ part in their job title. I was unaware of this until the very first time I touched the ball. I received a pass as I made a cut toward the basket and I gracefully leaped into the air during my lay-up. As I reached the peak of my altitude, just before I began my descent I released the ball towards the round metal rim. I happened to send the ball on its own just before I was greeted by 250 pounds of man that was heavily shellacked in a fine coat of sweat. It was then that the oxygen masks dropped from the cabin ceiling and I careened towards the sturdy surface below me only to land flat on my back.

I stood up and as I wiped the foreign sweat from my arms and face I noticed that I had scored, but I was not going to get a chance at a free throw, because there was no foul called. It was then in that moment that I realized that these ‘aged’ gentlemen have no remorse for the care of their more naïve and younger opponents. It was also in that moment that I had become excessively less concerned for their well being. For that is how the alumni tournament is: rough.

After the basketball games for that evening there is a custom that virtually everybody takes part in, not just the players, but the families visiting and the families that live in the town as well, and that is drinking. A stranger to the area would feel as if he were in the heart of Dublin during the green parade if he were to stumble into one of the two bars that Clark Fork has to offer. Afterwards I have no idea what takes place but I will get to experience that this year being it is the first time I’ve been of age to enter the establishments.

After everybody’s delightful night out, the next morning they wake up and the unfortunate few have basketball games starting at 8 am. I have been one of those few, and so has my good friend Joseph Heyne. I remember waking up Sunday morning at 8:40 and my game started at 9. I was still one of the first players on my team to arrive which meant only one thing, my team was more hung over than I was, which meant they drank a lot. At halftime I walked to the center of the court and just laid there for the length of the half, I was accompanied by Joey and we could hardly move. I remember attempting a lay-up in the first half and I could hardly see the scoreboard, let alone dribble. The affects of the night before were still upon me.

However, that is what the Alumni Tournament is all about. Everybody has an extremely good time and it generates a lot of money for the school. So everybody who’s interested, if you’re not busy the weekend of March 13, come on out to Clark Fork, I promise you’ll have a good time watching the basketball games and the events afterwards. Also on Saturday the volleyball games start so if you’re a female and want to get involved then you can participate in that as well. It’s 30 dollars per player and you’ll be selected to a team.

If you don’t want to play, it’s also a lot of fun to come out and watch. All the money goes to the Clark Fork High School and the participants are not confined to just Clark Fork graduates, anybody can play. You can pick up sign up forms from Hays Chevron in Clark Fork or you can call the school at 208-266-1131.

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Dustin Gannon Dustin Gannon says he's a writer because his mama owns a newspaper. At all other times, he's a sportsman, writing both the Sno Biz column, when he's working at Schweitzer Mountain Resort in the wintertime, and Fore! Play, when he's working at the Coeur d'Alene Resort golf course during the summer.

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