Basketball celebrations typically are spontaneous. The swish of a net beats a buzzer and the place is up for grabs. Players leap into each other’s arms. Coaches embrace. Players jump into coaches’ arms. Fans engulf their heroes at midcourt.
There will be a basketball celebration July 9 at the McLean County Fairgrounds and this one is unique. It has been scheduled for months, A lot of thought and care has gone into the planning. There is nothing “spur of the moment” about it, but like the spontaneous kind, it is well-deserved.
The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a reunion/open house from 1 to 5 p.m. The air conditioned Expo Center at the McLean County Fairgrounds, located at the Interstate Center, will include memorabilia from the Basketball Museum of Illinois and other artifacts borrowed from throughout the state.
There also will be a short program and the informal social will be decorated much like a school gymnasium. There will be an admission charge, with food and a cash bar available.
The event, which is open to the public as well as IBCA members and Hall of Famers, is designed to honor all 50 classes of the IBCA Hall of Fame and celebrate 50 years of an organization founded by longtime coach and executive director Chuck Rolinski.
The IBCA has printed a document that includes its history, Illinois basketball history, memorable photos and interesting basketball stories. A commemorative coin also will be distributed to Hall of Famers to celebrate 50 years and Rolinski.
Rolinski died in 2014, but his spirit lives on.
“I think he’s smiling at this,” said Steve Allen, an IBCA Hall of Fame coach from Sherman and longtime board member and recording secretary. “He was quite a guy. He just loved basketball, and thankfully so.
“I don’t think there’s any other state that does what our organization does. We have the Hall of Fame, we have coaches of the year, all-star games, all-academic teams, organizations of the year … we run the gamut I think. We’ve served the basketball community for 50 years and it’s time that we kind of toot our horn and celebrate.”
The IBCA had small 50th anniversary displays at the boys state tournament in Champaign and girls state tournament at Redbird Arena.
The girls display included a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Title IX. The passage of that landmark legislation also will be part of the July 9 celebration.
“We were limited in size obviously (at the state tournaments), but we had a lot of people say, ‘I didn’t know this’ and then they had a story about something,” Allen said. “It was a pretty big hit, we thought. We’ll have more than that here. I’m pretty impressed with what (memorabilia) we found.”
Coaches routinely form game plans and Allen said the IBCA has “a lot of great people working” on this and other projects.
The organization is a team effort by necessity. Allen wasn’t joking when he said of Rolinski: “It took 10 people to replace him.”
“He had a unique way of doing things … like a Mom and Pop kind of store,” Allen said. “It took 10 of us to take his place and try to modernize it somewhat.”
There has been an organization-wide desire to honor Rolinski’s legacy. The 50th anniversary celebration is no different.
“We’re only going to get to do this once,” Allen said.
They are committed to doing it right.
Fifty years suggest they will.
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Randy Kindred is a columnist and retired sports editor at The Pantagraph.