Thursday, November 8, 2012

An Amazing Story at a KU Game

This is one of my all-time favorite memories as a sports fan.  It was winter of the 1996-1997 basketball season.  At that time, I was a junior in college and Tabor was at the start of a special season.  Tabor was coming off a season where they went to Nationals, and now with a experienced senior class, they were ready for this season.  The year before they had played a game at Washburn in Topeka and a school in another division. They weren't ready for that game. But now in this year, Washburn was returning to Hillsboro to play this Tabor team.  Home games at Tabor were an experience. The gym is filled with the smells, sounds, and atmosphere of small gym that reminds you of the movie Hoosiers.  The pep band is loud and plays spirited music as they players warm up.  The old Mennonite Greys that love following sports are busy talking and eating their pop-corn. Then there is the student section that is right on the floor, excited, ready to yell at their team, yell at the refs and opposing players.

This is the setting as Washburn comes to town ranked #2 in NCAA division 2.  I don't remember much from that game other than Tabor was in it and were able to pull out the victory.  That was amazing in itself, but what I remember from that game was this.  Washburn was coached by Bob Chipman, a fiery and great coach, who now has 600 career wins.  When it was clear Tabor was going to win, the student section first started out with the "overrated" chant.  Then at some point Coach Chipman received a technical and walked back to the locker room. He wasn't ejected but decided to wait out the rest of the game in the locker room in protest.  As he walked, the student section yelled, "left, right, left right, left right," to match his every step.  It was classic.  (One side note, I may or may not have been leading this chants)  As he was headed to the locker room in full rage and living up to the moment, he rips off his sport jacket and throws it on the court and leaves.  It was so Bobby Knight like.  A classic moment.  Tabor won the game and we got the coached mad.   The memory still makes me smile although I rarely think about it.   Washburn hasn't returned to Tabor for a game and probably won't ever. 

So on Monday night, Ethan and I went to the KU - Washburn game.  Washburn is still coached by Bob Chipman and they are still highly ranked but now playing at KU.  On the drive, I thought of this memory and texted Bruce and Travis Jost (the twinners) who were seniors on that team and say, "Hey I think I should go up to Coach Chipman and say, here is your jacket from 17 years ago from the Mennonite Dungeon" (what I often referred to Tabor's gym as).  They both loved it and shared that laugh and memory.

As Ethan and go to our seats, high up at Allen Fieldhouse, we found ourselves sitting by a couple of older Jayhawk fans who have been coming to games for years. One was celebrating his 75th birthday.  They loved it that Ethan was attending his first game. Throughout the first half we shared different KU stories and gave each other high fives. It made the whole experience great for Ethan.  In the middle of the 2nd half, I shared my memory of the Washburn coach from that night at Tabor.  Right as I finished saying and the refs gave him a T and he threw his jacked, the guy sitting by Ethan looked at me and said, "I was reffing that game."   I said "no way, Are you serious".  then he said that one of the other refs was down there reffing in the game we were watching.   so we shared our memories from that night.  He remembered the Jost twins and reffing many games at Tabor, but he especially remembered that night.

Seriously, what are the odds of that happening.  17 years later that I am at some random KU game sitting amongst 16,000 people and I just happen to share that story and the guy next to me was reffing the game. Who knows what that happened but it makes for a great story and a reminder of a fun time in my life when I was a little more passionate about sports that I am now. (at least a little).

 I e-mailed this blog to Bruce and Trav before posting and here was Bruce's memories from that game.

I love the Menno dungeon tag. CRAZY that you were sitting next to the guy that reffed that game. Excellent story. Hall of Fame fans…Matt Penner first time ballot. The best folks, the best.

Random memories for me:

  • They had Scot Pollard’s brother on the Washburn team. All 7 ft of him. As he walked into the lobby of our gym he said “Is this the middle school gym?”

  • They had Dan Bouie who at one point tried to make it at USC. That guy was athletic as can be, a beast but needed some focus to be great.

  • Larry Farmer a Highland Park product just thunder dunked one at the student section basket. I was across the lane and almost challenged him but my leg was hurting so bad from the oncoming stress fracture I couldn’t muster the power to get up there. That could have been a big time poster as he was lanky and could leap but man did I want to compete with him on that one just could not get there.

  • As we line up for a free throw an announcement comes over the PA system about there being the SAB activity of roller skating. John Sweet, talented guard from Highland Park who was known to have a little swagger looks around the lane and says to us Tabor prudes “You all going roller skatin’ tonight”. Hilarious. Apparently that was not the kind of activity happening on Washburn’s campus. Here’s to small town Christian education. And you know that skate party was packed out!


  1. Wow! That is crazy! I don't remember that game, but I wish I did! I can just imagine it though!

  2. Does Travis remember it? It was a fun night.

  3. That is awesome! I remember that game too. I so distinctly remember that jacket getting thrown in the air. The game was wild.