Archive for Thursday, August 14, 2003

Yesterday’s Heroes

The story behind trophies and triumphs from years past

August 14, 2003

In May, a man in his mid-40s walked into Bonner Springs High School for the first time in nearly 20 years.

The building had changed and things looked different than when he attended classes there, but he expected that.

What he didn't expect was to have his place in BSHS history erased.

This man, Al Dowding, along with hundreds more just like him, is one of many former high school athletes who have had their accomplishments taken off the shelves and packed away into boxes.

"I wasn't trying to stir up a hornet's nest or anything like that, it was more curiosity than anything," the former reserve on the 1976 BSHS basketball team said. "I wasn't first string or anything, I rode the bench. But we did win a couple of trophies and I thought it would be cool to see them again."

Dowding's 1976 team won the 3A regional championship and went on to take fourth at the state tournament.

Although Dowding was disappointed that his team's trophies were missing, he said he understands the reasons they can't be displayed.

"That's the bad thing about trophies," Dowding said. "They take up a lot of space, they get broken and they are easy to misplace."

Current BSHS football coach Lew Kasselman, who has been the leader of several trophy-worthy teams, said it was unfortunate to have the trophies taken down, but just because they're gone doesn't mean the memories vanish.

"It would be nice if we could display them all because they're all important," Kasselman said. "None are more special than the others, but we just don't have the room."

Keeping tabs on every trophy the school has ever won has been a nearly impossible task.

Current BSHS athletic director Garold Baker said the school has pulled in an average of five or six trophies per year during his eight-year tenure.

Average that number out over the entire span of the school and you're staring at a figure somewhere near 400. That's a lot of trophies to display in a case that measures 75 feet long by two feet deep and six feet tall.

And that doesn't even count the countless number of junior varsity plaques and trophies or the hardware from a number of freshman events.

Baker said the large number of trophies the school has won throughout the years has forced the administration to draw the line somewhere. While that line has never been verbalized, Baker said it's definitely present.

"When you talk about JV tournaments and stuff like that, there's just not enough room for it all," he said. "You have to draw the line. Our goal is to keep all of the postseason stuff in the main trophy case."

In addition to the main trophy case, the Braves have an annual trophy case near the entrance that displays all the trophies and plaques won during the current school year.

Baker said discussions about how to display the older trophies have never been formally conducted. But he said some ideas have been kicked around.

The idea of displaying them on the wall is one that Baker's not a fan of, but several other schools have done that.

Down the road at Basehor-Linwood High School, that's exactly what the Bobcats do. All of their post-season trophies hang about nine feet from the ground on a wall across from the main gymnasium.

Baker's main beef with hanging them on the wall is that they would likely get broken or hang crooked. But the location of the BLHS trophies has kept them safe.

Anchored by screws, the state plaques are displayed with class and unharmed. The only thing having its affect on these trophies is time.

One trophy, a football trophy from 1974, is missing the "4".

BLHS became Basehor-Linwood High School in 1989.

Before the consolidation, the district had two separate schools -- Basehor High School and Linwood High School.

While not all of the trophies from those schools made the move to BLHS, several of them did, and they hang with the trophies and plaques from the current days of BLHS.

The post-season wall, which displays 38 trophies and plaques, starts from 1974 and works its way up in chronological order.

BLHS athletic director Joe Keeler said he thought most of the trophies from all three schools were accounted for because when BLHS added its athletic wing in 2000, there was an emphasis on creating enough trophy space to accommodate the school's inventory.

What resulted were three trophy cases built into the red brick walls, and that includes an academic case. Although all three cases are occupied, there is still plenty of room for more trophies and plaques. And there's even room for more cases.

"When we did construction (of the new gym) we boxed them up, but as far as I know most of our trophies are on display," Keeler said. "Surely there have been a few that were broken and got thrown away, but for the most part they're all in there."

And Keeler and new BLHS principal Steve Blankenship said they plan to stay that way, even if the school wins more trophies than it can display.

"We'll find a way to display them," Blankenship said. "Two hundred years from now, we'll let them worry about space."

If money and space were no object, Baker said Bonner Springs would do the same thing. However, in a building that just underwent renovations, there's simply no space and even less money.

"If we had a zillion dollars and another room, we'd love to display them," Baker said.

One room in question is the new gymnasium. However, Baker said the YMCA is not an option for housing trophies.

It will be home to three separate banners on the wall that will be displayed to represent league, district and state championship teams from BSHS.

Those banners, which will honor BSHS teams, should be up before the end of the year and will include volleyball, boys and girls basketball, boys tennis and soccer nameplates from the 2002-2003 school year.

As for the trophies, there's no telling what will happen. Several old trophies are stored in boxes in the BSHS basement. Several more were boxed up and kept at the Bonner Springs Community Center. However, many years ago, those trophies were discarded because there was no longer space to store them.

Bonner Springs resident Jim Finley, who works at the Community Center, said the center had a sale to try to get rid of several old high school items including pictures, uniforms and trophies. Because the district is not allowed to sell the trophies, they were on display and then discarded.

"I remember going up there to look at the old trophies because the figures on top were solid, not like the ones today," Finley said. "They had boxes of them up there, but they were just taken away."

It's unknown what became of the boxes or where they ended up.

Baker and Keeler said this is a common occurrence in high schools with things such as old uniforms, pictures and trophies. And both said it's one they wish could change.

But until more space becomes available or more money is raised to create space, the districts must continue with what they've got.

At BLHS, a fairly new school, what they've got is a lot.

But at Bonner Springs, despite being limited in the space department, the issue rarely comes up. Baker said when it does, it's usually in conjunction with reunions.

"We get people questioning what we do with the trophies and things, but that's just because they're thinking about it -- it's their reunion," he said. "Other than that, we don't hear much about it."

But whether they're thinking about them or not, those people who battled and gave their blood, sweat and tears for those trophies want to know where they are.

Unfortunately sometimes there are no answers. And it appears now that the only answer short of winning the lottery is in a suggestion from Dowding's mother.

"History is very important and if they don't have a case to keep the trophies in, they should get one," said Doris Dowding, a 1937 graduate of BSHS. "It's just such a shame and it makes me sad. I know something about each of those kids, and they were all very special to me and the community."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.