Last week we presented our annual winter sports schedules, accompanied by photos of winter sports basketball and wrestling teams. As noted, we will also get photos of the Durant bowling teams at a future date.
Every year, the schools, coaches and athletic directors work closely with us to make these photo days happen. We do it for every season, and our readers eagerly watch for it.
I was called to do a bit of a retake for Durant boys' basketball, and we decided to do it during a Saturday practice Nov. 20.
When given the opportunity to arrive anytime during a 2-hour practice, I chose to go near the end, as I didn't want to interrupt anything. Basketball practices are very regimented. Every minute counts.
Upon arriving at the Durant gym, the first person I saw was Durant girls' coach Ross DeLong, as the Wildcat girls were going to be next on the court for a practice of their own. When he asked me what I was up to, I jokingly told him I was there to practice with his team.
Little did I know he'd ask me to join practice after getting my photo work done. I was able to shoot free throws with the team, and also participated in a bit of a scrimmage for awhile with the varsity squad.
I wasn't prepared, wearing just jeans and sneakers. Yet it was a fun opportunity this journalist wasn't about to pass up. It was an experience to say the least, as it had been months since I had even shot hoops, let alone ran up and down the court. Yes I felt it the next morning, but it was quite worth it.
DeLong is in his fourth year coaching the Durant girls. His intensity and love for the sport and his team are unmatched.
I remember watching him play for the Wildcats when I was in school. He was just as competitive and intense then, getting it naturally from his father Gary DeLong, the longtime athletic director and boys' basketball coach at Durant.
If I had a daughter, I'd be honored for her to play for Ross DeLong. He gives it his all every second, on court and in practice. Thanks to him and the girls for inviting me in for a memorable day!
Remembering Cindy Crain—We were shocked and heartbroken to learn of Cindy Crain's death last week. Cindy worked in the circulation department at our parent paper, the Eldridge North Scott Press. However, what our readers do not know is that she was instrumental in the circulation at all the newspapers in our group, including the Advocate News. We corresponded weekly, as she was the key to making sure our subscribers received their paper each week.
Every Wednesday, I had to give her pertinent information in order for the Postal Service to get our product into your hands. When I'd call to report the numbers she needed each week, we'd always have a delightful conversation, where I'd get constant family updates.
While they didn't know me, I felt like I knew her three daughters, Aundrea, Reese and Taylor, even better than I know some of my own extended family. The pride and love she had for her family, especially her husband Cory and their girls, was truly something special.
She had a bright smile, yet even brighter still was her personality, which just meshed perfectly (in my humble opinion) with my own. Cindy was as quick witted as you'll find, making me smile and laugh each time we spoke. She kept me on my toes, and I loved her for it. If only everyone could have an outlook and personality like hers. This world would be a much better place.
I've missed those moments for months, as she stepped away from her position to battle the health issues she was dealing with. Never did I think she'd be taken from this earth as a result, but I'll forever be grateful for the time and conversations we had. She'll be missed.
Her obituary can be viewed on page 9.