Thursday, February 01, 2007

Beer-induced, Flaming Cougarhawk mania.

Perceptive reader Edward has noticed the inscription on the Gravity Head 2007 mascot’s basketball jersey, and he asks, undoubtedly smirking:

Can you tell the story behind Flaming Cougarhawks?

Not without pain, but here goes.

It is a widely and deservedly forgotten fact that while serving acne time during high school, your faithful Curmudgeon was a two-year varsity basketball player at Floyd Central. My active hoops participation ceased after our ignominious defeat in the morning session of the Seymour regional in 1978, after which spent the afternoon drinking Little Kings with friends in their Daze Inn hotel room before proceeding to an equally lackluster career of grabbing innings of varsity baseball pine.

Upon graduation, a regimen-free summer was spent lounging with like-minded pals, especially those with skills at being served, which magically added 25 pounds of non-muscle mass (i.e., goo) to an otherwise spindly frame.

A steadily growing affection for beer in its cheapest available incarnation accompanied four years of intramural basketball competition at Indiana University Southeast, and it should come as no surprise that my best-ever senior IM squad was called the Inebriates. By the mid-1980’s, activities like softball, walking and riding trains between European beer shrines had replaced organized basketball as my generally preferred forms of exercise, but as so often is the case, and without warning, there was to be an entirely unexpected roundball comeback.

It happened in 1999.

A group of Rich O’s Public House regulars, all of whom love the game of basketball – some of them can still be glimpsed limping to the bar for their daily medicinal pints – somehow fell into a summertime routine of meeting on Sundays atop the asphalt parking lot of Our Lady of Perpetual Help and shooting hoops, which led to half-court games followed by restorative ale drinking at the Shelbyville Road location of BBC … and, fueled by these post-game sessions, led eventually to a bizarre delusion that we were good enough to compete in the autumn YMCA recreational league in Clarksville.

Mark, our starting guard and coach, did the paperwork, and I purchased garish bluish purple team jerseys for the team, which had been dubbed the Flaming Cougarhawks in honor of … owing to … hmmm, the ironic thing is that I have no memory of the naming process other than to suggest that we must have been drinking BBC APA when it happened.

When the newly minted Flaming Cougarhawks stepped onto the hardwood for their first-ever game, the average age of the starting lineup was about 35, and it quickly doubled when we suddenly realized that a regulation full court is very, very big, and that the opposing team of recently graduated 19-year-olds was very, very fast.

We outweighed them, though, and this came in handy on those rare occasions when one of us could catch up with one of them. Calling on long-neglected reserves of thespian talent, I duped the referee into calling a shooting foul and scored the first point in team history on a free throw. Moments later I jammed my right ankle and was lost for the season. The Flaming Cougarhawks dropped each and every game on the schedule, although we came close enough once to justify another BBC drinking spree.

Those young pups couldn’t touch us there, on our true home court.

(Thanks to Jared and Tony for remembering)


antzman said...

This sounds like my college intramural b-ball team. We dubbed ourselves "6-feet and Under" I was our power forward at a lurking 5'11". Our claim to fame was the fast break "3". If you got a breakaway, you had to sprint to the 3 point line and launch a tres. It truly baffled people the first time they played us as you would see a fast break develop, and then see the defender streak by their man as he stopped and popped a three pointer. The unfortunate fool that did not stop for the 3, and drove to the hoop had to buy a round at the bar that night. Looking back at what we were drinking at the time, that might have been a punishment for all involved.

The New Albanian said...

Amen, Brother Todd.