In April, the women’s basketball team ran the Bearcat Slam and Jam Youth Basketball Tournament. One of the teams in the high school boys’ division was six or seven local kids that formed a team. Not all played basketball last year and they coached themselves.
Blake McFadden, the great baseball pitcher from Savannah, joined the Maryville boys on the team. I held my breath when the play got rough. Blake will probably be drafted by major league baseball. He’s also a really good basketball player.
Tyler Walters was another kid on the team. He is probably the best overall athlete at Maryville High School. Kyle Leslie didn’t play basketball last year, but he showed good skill during the weekend of the tournament.
There were other Maryville high school kids on the team. They called themselves the Rejects, but that was just a spoof on them. They played great and were rolling toward the championship game. That’s when an official came to me with a complaint. The Rejects were talking trash.
As they waited to play the final game, I approached them. It was my intention to give them some, “do it my way or the highway” advice. To get my point across, I didn’t look at Blake, Tyler or Kyle. My eyes met Eric Bostwick and I directed my advice at him.
I knew Eric would be the best bet to gain control of the group. He had that sly smile on his face as he listened to my requests for better sportsmanship. While the other players may have denied the trash talking, Eric knew what I knew. He assured me it wouldn’t continue.
The game was played and the only poor sportsmanship came from the other team. The Rejects hardly lived up to their name. They won the championship going away. Eric made sure my message got across.
It made me aware of how much Scott is in Eric. Scott once told me about the week before his Nebraska Wesleyan team played arch rival, Doane College. Doane freshmen players were camped out on the football field so the Wesleyan players couldn’t damage the field.
Damage to the field isn’t what Scott had in mind. He and his buddies from Wesleyan expertly broke into the Doane Field House and stole every football. Doane would have a perfect field to play on the next day, but they would have to settle for a game of tag. There wasn’t a football to be found in the athletic department.
Phone calls between the two schools were made. An angry Nebraska Wesleyan football coach confronted his squad the next day. As Scott would tell it, he looked right at him and demanded the balls be returned. I don’t think Scott ever stopped laughing about that prank.
I know he laughed every time I got together with Scott and former Doane College defensive coordinator, Tom Hood. Tom always came to Maryville to officiate the Simpson College women’s basketball exhibition game. After the game, Scott and Tom would get together in downtown Maryville.
I went along for the ride. That story was told and retold. I think I laughed harder at it the last time I heard it than the first. Scott, like his son, loved to cross the line then laugh his way back across the line. You just couldn’t stay made at either one of them.
When Eric was in junior high, he would watch my son, Sam, during the summer. Now, if Sam goes to a high school basketball game, he’s most likely to go sit with Eric and his high school friends. Eric never turns Sam away or makes my son think he’s not welcome among the much older group.
That’s the way Scott was with me. Scott was the most respected assistant coach and defensive coordinator in all of football. In the end, he was in charge of the best football program in NCAA II. I was the head coach of the women’s basketball team. You might say the situation was the same that confronted Sam and Eric.
The only time Scott wouldn’t talk to me is when he was in a deep discussion with a recruit. Often he came to my office to talk about football or basketball. He might just stop by to talk about our sons. He never put himself above anyone.
This past weekend, Sam took a graduation present to Eric. It was a Nebraska Wesleyan football t-shirt. Sam will miss Eric when he leaves for Lincoln this fall. We all miss Scott since he left us a year ago. Scott is gone, but he’s not really gone. You don’t have to look far to see his presence in his family and in the rest of us. We still miss him.