Letter: Gold Medal History

Posted: Friday, March 15, 2002

Some Gold Medal hoops history

Again, the renowned Lions Gold Medal Basketball Tournament will take place this month in Juneau.

Participating teams will come from around the state for this popular sporting event to try to take home the first place trophy while representing both urban and rural areas. Of course, the sport of basketball plays significant roles in American society, including fueling our local economy and more.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this event is the way participating teams are set up to ensure balanced competition. Thus, the A, B and C brackets. For a bit more class, the Double A bracket provides sophistication and brilliance. In fact, age is not a big problem at all in this unique tournament.

To boot, loyalty and allegiance play significant roles. Teams usually bear home town symbols or names connected to a favored organization, business, tribe or corporation. This year, my home town Kake will send its favored ball club, The Tlingit Heat. This team won the first place trophy in 1998, upsetting the favored Hoonah ball club. Of course, Tlingit Heat still poses a threat and are aware that swift team work does wonders. The rest falls into place; fast breaks and easy lay-ups. Kake also presents excellent long-shot artists, who come in handy to break a tie near the end of the game. The center big Chaa-Naa, Scotty Jackson and Wayne Friday are fast-break artists. The crowd favored Jay Peterson.

Of course, like the other village ball clubs like the wise Tlingit Heat, there are also village high school graduates who played for Kake High School. In that respect, they visit as trustworthy and stately alumni representatives of that school. For this reason, involving high school youngsters in this tournament deserves a gentle pat on the shoulder. After all, our youngsters hold the key to success that could make a big difference in our American society. In fact, Joe Tompkins and Carlos Boozer are examples of role models.

As we know it, 90 percent of the tumultuous crowd will be comprised of people from Native villages. Unfortunately, this is more than enough people to accommodate seat availability at the Juneau-Douglas High School gymnasium. In fact, the gym saw the Mount Edgecumbe Braves basketball team take part in the LGMBT tournament in 1949. The same year, the Braves defeated the tough Juneau Crimson Bears by one measly point in the same gym. It is a victory I and fellow Braves will savor at the age of 70 years young. The key to our victory was the unique revolving man-to-man zone defense and long wind. The Mt. Edgecumbe Braves were undefeated that year.

Perhaps it would pay politically for our state legislators and Gov. Tony Knowles to come and watch a few games. They will see games bathed in hard work, faith and the will to win. More importantly, there is the need to build a separate unit for all sports activities that people enjoy here in Juneau; preferably, a huge dome. After all, this is the 20th century now and we need to get caught up with the rest of the world. It may be designed by a qualified building construction architect that lives here in the capital city of Juneau.

Don't get me wrong, we don't need a huge coliseum, the likes of the one in Rome, where Caesar and his cabinet members watched excellent gladiators take part in grave sporting events just to stay alive, but a simple dome to accommodate the rapidly growing LGMBT here in Juneau. We know the sport of basketball and other types of sports play important roles in our American society. A dome will add lasting beauty and more fuel to our suffering economic freedom in Juneau.

Franklin "Shkane" Williams Sr.


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