Saturday, February 12, 2011
John Ring Looks Back
John Ring arrived in time to cover some very good years in Streaks girls basketball. He spent hours putting together wonderful stories on individual players and our teams. I enjoyed asking for some of his perspective on the Streaks and sports in general. Thanks!
From growing up in Galesburg, what were some of your favorite sports memories?
The John Thiel teams of the 1960s. I loved Silver Streak basketball and a player like Dale Kelley was a hero to us. He was amazing. My Dad used to take me to Silver Streak games and it was incredible, the sold out gym, their uniforms, the way they intimidated the other team with just their warm-ups. What a great homecourt advantage they had. It was a show.
Did you have John Thiel as a teacher? What was that like?
Yes, I had Coach Thiel for a teacher. It was kind of intimidating at first but he treated all of us great. We had a lot of respect for him.
If you were doing the Zephyr in the 1940's, 1950's, 1960's- who would be interviews you would like to do and why? What would be a game or two you would like to cover?
Great question. I would have loved to cover the Galesburg-Pekin basketball games because both were great basketball programs with coaches like Coach Thiel and Hawkins. But more than that, it was a clash of cultures. Coach Thiel played a lot of black basketball players in the 1950s; it didn’t matter to us as Galesburg kids. We were used to that but it was met with some hostility not only in Pekin, which had all-white teams, but also in Southern Illinois. And Thiel would have been a great interview.
In the 1950s, it would have been fun to cover the culture change with the birth of Rock and Roll. In the 1960s, there would have been lots of issues to cover because it was a rare time in our history; civil unrest, the space race, political assassinations, the Vietnam War. It was a real turbulent time, a crazy time and Galesburg was a different place back then. Downtown was thriving, the population was growing.
You can't use any Galesburg coaches or players. What are your five favorite people to interview?
In the past 21 years, here were my five favorite interviews:
Homer Hickam (from the movie “October Sky”)
Silas Johnson (last pitcher to strike out Babe Ruth)
If you started a half-hour TV interview show, which coach would people probably be in stitches laughing at for a half-hour?
Dick Versace, former coach at Bradley You never knew what he was going to say.
Who are three Galesburg girls players who are not probably considered stars by the general public but you think were instrumental in our success?
Sara Wood. Not quick, not athletic, not a great shooter, just flat-out worked hard
Shanell Jackson. She hit some big shots. She could light up a room when she entered it.
Alison Bauchman. Not really tall but did the dirty work inside for some very good teams.
Who would be 2-3 former players if you heard they were running for political office, you would be fired up to vote?
Jenny Zolper, battled back from a knee injury, great leader and genuinely compassionate and loving to people.
Jennifer Bulkeley, great intelligence, lots of experience since her graduation, very honest.
Jenna Bicego, consummate court leader, left it all on the floor, played where needed.
Sara Wood in the Marines- does that surprise you?
Not at all. Lt. Wood will have a great military career. If I deploy again and run into her, I’d have to salute her but that would be cool. I’d salute her and then hug her.
* It should be noted that after we lost in the Supersectional at Peken, Sara announced in the lockeroom after the game, “If anyone out there tries to hug me, I’m going to deck them.”
What are your top five Streaks girls games of all-time?
The big upset of Wilmette Loyola, 1999 in the state quarterfinals
Molly Watson’s Immaculate Drive, Freeport, Sectionals, 1996
Overtime win against Moline in the Sectionals, 2000, big Megan Pacheco 3 point shot
Sarah Larson’s 41 point game against Chicago Maria, 1998
71-58 win over Rock Island in 1997, completed undefeated regular season
Were there ever teams or fans or coaches who made it hard for you to write a story because they just rubbed you wrong?
Yes, all of the above. Cindy Clark at Peoria Notre Dame was difficult. The Taylorville coach in 1997 was distant and aloof and I tried every trick in the book to get her to open up to no avail. And the Stevenson coach (Frank Mattuci) was just plain arrogant. I didn’t like him at all. Most Western Big 6 fans are kind of obnoxious. I try to stay clear of them, same for those from Morton, Richwoods and ND.
How did you become a Cincinnati fan? Is Jay Barshinger the only other one in Galesburg?
Growing up, Frank Robinson was my favorite baseball player so I became a Reds fan. I also liked Vada Pinson a lot. My brothers were Cardinal and Dodger fans so I naturally had to be different and the Cubs were absolutely no option. I know some other Reds fans in Illinois but Jay is the only guy in Galesburg I know that shares my passion for the Cincinnati Reds.
Posted by Massey Basketball