The Final Column: Peterson – Always appreciate what you have
A famous person once said there are no yesterdays … and no tomorrows. Therefore, one should live for today only.
I can’t say that I agree with this line of thinking, at least not totally.
But an event almost one year ago has caused me to rethink.
I went to bed on July 13 … and woke up the next morning unable to get up.
Doctors told me I had contracted something called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which causes nerve damage in the legs and feet.
To make a long story short, I have spent most of the last year in and out of hospitals and nursing homes.
Being in a bed or wheelchair 24/7 gives you a lot of time to reflect.
But with some solid advice from my doctor and the work of dedicated physical therapists, I am now walking with a walker/cane and will be able to attend the wedding of my granddaughter Sarah on July 2.
I’ve given a lot of thought to all the events I’ve covered over the last 50 years or so.
I was fortunate enough to grow up in the countryside, near Otter Lake, where outdoor events were readily available.
And attending a small school (John Doelle) was another plus. The teachers were very dedicated and had the time to work with students on a one-to-one basis.
A small Class D school, Doelle competed against basketball state powers like Chassell, Mass City, Bergland, Champion, etc. and held its own.
I played for four years there and could be considered a good (961 points), but not great, player.
That status belonged to teammate George Michaelson, one of seven brothers who played basketball there.
He led the Upper Peninsula in scoring in 1960-61, hitting 28 points per game. A multi-faceted player, I would not see his equal until Dave Besonen of Ewen-Trout Creek 20 years later.
Large families have always been a big reason for sports success locally.
There was the Salani family at Hancock; the Sirard family in L’Anse; the Markhams in Houghton; the Soumis clan in Chassell; the Wesa family at Jeffers; the Gervais and Kleins at Lake Linden-Hubbell; and the Helminen, Sturos, Frantti and Loukus clans in Calumet.
If I missed a few families I apologize – there are so many.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the outstanding coaches I had the pleasure to watch.
Ron Warner guided LL-H football teams to great success (two state titles) and numerous other crowns. His well coached teams were a sterling 16-1 in games played at the Superior Dome.
Jim Crawford’s hockey record at Calumet High was just as imposing and included six state titles. His teams used style and power.
Brothers Don and Rick Miller also established great hockey programs at Houghton and Hancock. They won more games than any other national brother combo.
Title Nine opened up athletic programs for girls 50 years ago. It created chances for outstanding players and coaches.
Allison Bailey of Ewen-TC, Julie Filpus of Baraga, Elizabeth Pietila of Hancock and Sarah Stream of Westwood were just a few.
I mention Stream because I covered sports for the Marquette Mining Journal for four decades and saw her play many times. She went on to star at Michigan Tech as well.
On the subject of MTU coaches, the Huskies had the hockey immortal John MacInnes.
Kevin Borseth built the Tech women’s basketball team into a power.
Kevin Luke took over for Bill Gappy in men’s hoops and did the same. Luke, always honest, is probably my favorite all-time coach.
But the late Jim Bronczyk of Dollar Bay was a close second. He built a hoops dynasty at DBHS and set the foundation for the success of recent years.
Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to watch some really good players.
I could say I enjoyed every minute of it. But to be truthful, not every minute.
As I exit the stage – and the UP – very shortly, I can say I had the best seat in the house.