Time Out: March 17, 2010
Sometimes if we’re not slapped in the face by the significance of an event, we take for granted the very things we most enjoy. For dye-in-the-wool Delaware County basketball fans, that has to be the case with the National Junior College Athletic Association Division III Men’s Basketball Championships held at SUNY Delhi.
Saturday’s championship game marked the end of a remarkable run. SUNY Delhi has hosted the NJCAA Division III Men’s Hoop Championship for twenty consecutive years. Joliet Junior College’s first ever, national championship was the final time an NJCAA champion will be crowned in Delhi.
Dr. Joyce Brothers once stated that being taken for granted is sometimes actually a compliment. According to Brothers when people take an event for granted, that event has become a comfortable, trusted element in their lives. That was certainly the case when it came to SUNY Delhi’s NCJAA national championships.
Attending the games each year, you were first struck by the warm, at home feeling you received from a hardy group of community volunteers. Many of the helpers have become familiar faces over the years, folks like John Thompson, the Tournament Liaison, or Tom Newcomer, an usher at this year’s events. Like many of the Delhi Tournament work crew, Thompson and Newcomer have provided a helping hand for twenty consecutive seasons.
Entering the gymnasium you would see pockets of familiar faces, loyal tournament fans sitting in the exact same locations where they had stationed themselves in previous years. In recent times, the high school Scholarship Shoot-offs during half times had become an anticipated event. And, you could always expect to encounter the unexpected. In 2010, that had to be the spirited and entertaining cheering section supporting Bergen Community College of New Jersey.
For the local basketball connoisseur, it was the dazzling display of basketball that wet their palates. The tournament offered three days of intense competition that this year saw opposing players diving for a loose ball and toppling team bench chairs and a water cooler diving or leapfrogging the scorers table trying to keep an errant pass in bounds and landing in the lap of game spotter Adam VanValkenberg. The slam dunk crowd in the bleachers never goes away disappointed soaking in an aerial display of acrobatic jams. The individual performances of several stars like tournament MVP Brian Bradley from Joliet, Aubrey Rhodes from runner-up Rochester Community and Technical College of Minnesota, or David West of Bergen keeps fans guessing which talented ‘hoopsters’ will soon land on teams in the NCAA’s Division I.
Next year the tournament will relocate to the south finding a home at Sullivan County Community College. It would make sense for the Tournament Committee at Sullivan to pick the brains of the folks who had made this tournament a staple of early March in Delaware County.
To the folks of Delhi a hearty thanks for your tremendous effort and dedication in hosting this event over the years. When the fabled Queens song, “We Are the Champions” filled the Floyd L. Maines Arena Saturday night for the final time, the NJCAA and fans from Delaware County were paying tribute to three champions, Coach Joe Kuhn’s Joliet Junior College Basketball team, the SUNY Delhi Championship Basketball Committee and alegion of local tournament volunteers.