Learning from the Tribe: Basketball, Community and Wendell Berry

DHS 1996The response to my article “Learning from the Tribe” in the Lancaster Sunday News has been encouraging and inspiring, to say the least. I’m grateful to hear that people have been genuinely touched by my reflection on the Donegal High School boys’ basketball team’s run toward a state championship. I’m even more thankful for the many emails I’ve received expressing how much this basketball season meant to others in the community. Here’s just a sample:

“Thank you for submitting the article and expressing how many of us felt this season. We have a special school and community.”

“It is so true how sports are a microcosm of life. There is so much to be valued when you are part of something so special.”

“Pride will follow the tears and as you know in years to come the memories of what we all just saw will be forever ingrained in the minds of every member of that team.”

“Our community was reminded that it can still be done the right way… That team reminded me that we can be on the same page about things that are genuinely good.”

“We had not attended a Donegal basketball game since our son and you played and wish we had attended more. We have had a great two months following these young men… Last Tuesday in Reading was the most exciting sporting event I have ever attended. I could ramble on about all the friends, classmates and Donegal alumni this team has brought together.”

“I was in 7th grade when Donegal opened its doors and the community was pulled together by another very good basketball team in the first year of the school’s existence… You captured the essence of what occurs when something good comes along to rally around.”

Readers of this blog may not be aware of two major influences of my life: basketball and the town where I live, Mount Joy, PA. This year I was reminded of how much both basketball and this community means to me. My article was an expression of gratitude.

Another major influence has been the writer Wendell Berry. I refer to his essay “The Work of Local Culture” which is found in a book entitled What Are People For? I highly recommend anything by Wendell Berry, particularly my favorite novels Jayber Crow, Hannah Coulter and The Memory of Old Jack. For what it is worth, I think the best book about the significance of Wendell Berry is Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life by my friends J. Matthew Bonzo and Michael Stevens.