Time Out: March 24, 2010

It was a visit to York, Pennsylvania; many years ago that introduced me to the passion many women have for baseball. My wife and I were engaged to be married and we were visiting her Aunt Rose Hollander, a retired schoolteacher, a widower, who lived alone. I had never met Aunt Rose before and was a bit nervous anticipating how I would be received.
When we arrived, Aunt Rose was watching a major league baseball game on television. I had rarely encountered such a passionate fan. Rose knew all of the players and barked out instructions and admonishments freely. The umpiring crew was fair game.
Aunt Rose knew each by first name and shouted her displeasure at their judgments at the television screen using crusty, unladylike word choices. I was captivated and enthralled.
Locally, we have many women of substance and character who are passionate supporters of our local high school sports teams. Few fans have the analytical eye and acute observations of Margaretville’s Betty Griffin. Although she prefers watching girls’ sports, you can count on seeing Betty at almost any athletic event involving Margaretville teams. Betty knows her sports, is not afraid to share her opinion, and, win or lose, she is supportive of any hard-nosed effort on the hardwood or playing fields.
For decades a fixture at Andes athletic events has been Millie Johns. The wife of legendary Andes coach and Superintendent of Schools, Red Johns, Millie was at one time the girls’ basketball coach during the infancy of that sport at Andes. Always a wild splash of color in a sea of maroon, Andes fans appreciate Millie’s charm and wit and her warm laugh as she watches the sports their sons and daughters perform.
You can expect to run into Jeanne Hinkley at a Roxbury sporting event. A smile from ear to ear and encouraging words are common fare from Jeanne Hinkley. Although she is quick to acknowledge the good play of an athlete from any school, it is quickly apparent when it comes to allegiance, she is firmly behind the orange and black.
On March 12, Delaware County lost a longstanding, well-respected local sports fan. A trip to South Kortright to watch a boys’ basketball game would not have been complete without a hello to Roxbury resident Mary Alice Wiedemann. Mary Alice, the mother of South Kortright coach, Bob VanValkenburgh, loved watching her son coach and the boys from both schools play. Always seated in a large cushioned chair to the side of the South Kortright bleachers as you entered the gymnasium, a simple look at her face was enough to make you feel at home in the Rams’ den. Mary Alice, a regular customer at the Flour Patch in Margaretville, was a people person. She met my daughter Jenna working the counter there and they became quick and permanent friends.
This winter a Christmas card for Jenna from Wiedemann arrived at our home. Jenna had graduated from college and Mary Alice was unsure of her whereabouts and wanted to make sure her Christmas wishes were sent Jenna’s way. Somehow a trip to SK to watch a basketball game will not be the same without seeing Mary Alice in her courtside chair.
It’s the support of these wonderful ladies and other fans like them that help make our local sports’ scene so meaningful. Win or lose, good teams or bad, these ladies give our young athletes a great gift, a safety net of sorts. Their always being there, their constant presence is a gentle reminder that they care. People who care provide meaning in our lives and purposes to the things that we do. That is certainly the case with these loyal local sports fans.