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Pencil Shavings

Ramblings from an ‘old’ Viqueen

Dawn Hankins
Posted 3/5/22

Way to go Community High Viqueens for reaching the goal of Region AA champs! I’m proud of this team. As a former Viqueen, it is truly heart-felt to see the girls earn this accomplishment.

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Pencil Shavings

Ramblings from an ‘old’ Viqueen


Way to go Community High Viqueens for reaching the goal of Region AA champs! I’m proud of this team. As a former Viqueen, it is truly heart-felt to see the girls earn this accomplishment.  

Back in my heyday, when I played basketball, the Viqueens struggled greatly with their record. A lot of it really wasn’t our fault, but we’ll take some of the blame. After all, we were teens, so how much control did we really have?  

The sad truth is, we had a different coach every year of high school. Speaking for myself, I admit I wasn’t the best basketball player. Truthfully, if there had been more extracurricular offerings then at Community, like band or more in the way of the arts, I probably wouldn’t have played basketball.  

I honorably warmed the bench all those years. There was a bigger plan for my life.  

I remember Coach Jerry Burlison, who passed away in 2017, and my fav coach Randy Vernon, now successful in the trucking business, who gave me the opportunity in high school to get into the action. I can hear then Coach Randy yelling, “Run Dawn, run!” Yep, I preceded Forest Gump in that right. Thanks Coach Vernon.  

As for the legacy of Coach Burlison, he did NOT want to coach girls basketball; he was strictly a men’s coach. But due to our Viqueens coach having some health issues, he got stuck with us one year. I’m glad he did, as he taught me so much as a coach; he was a bootstrap kid who made good. (Bootstrap kid is a colloquialism for a person of modest beginnings who achieves success.) I admired him.  

When I got to college, a professor, who was by the way from Unionville, often reminded me of how we ‘really liked to bounce the ball’ down here. Yes, we did our fair share of ‘bouncing the ball.’  

I was actually blessed to be able to take private piano lessons as a kid. I finally gave up music, because of what else, basketball.  

Do I regret that decision? Well, I should have honestly carved out enough time for both. People now tell me it’s not too late. Perhaps. (Oddly enough, I don’t have a lot of people tell me I should keep playing basketball. Wink.)  

Some valuable lessons I learned from basketball included teamwork and serving others, first. Likely, one of the best lessons drilled into us was ‘stay in the game’ with ‘your head held high,’ even when the chips are down. (And back then, we were sometimes down by 30 points on the scoreboard. So we were told to be ‘brave,’ a lot.)  

But the bigger picture is that many of us retired Viqueens have gone on to be professionals in our own right. Many of the women I played BB with are now working for state legislators, hold lead roles in government offices and are employed in many other facets. Some are simply the best grandmas I know around.  

As my granny use to say, ‘they’re good people.’  

Playing the game can be a hard road. Unless you’ve played basketball, most do not realize the stress associated with the game. (Sigh, Vandy’s “Pippen Jr.” Tuesday night, with his dad, infamous Scottie Pippen sitting in the crowd.)  

The stress you feel when you watch from the sidelines is easily shaken off. Players must deal with fans, peers, family, coaches, each other and yes, I said it, even the media, constantly, or simply, quit.  

I think some of the things that are said at any sports event could rightfully cause players and coaches to quit. But we learn early on that’s no where in the program.  

Believe it or not, players can’t decipher things said (besides the coach yelling from the sidelines.) Basketball players are taught to use their peripheral vision, for obvious reasons. So young, impressionable players see more than you realize.  

I remember an educator (from another school system) who use to stand on the sidelines and make fun of us when we would get behind in scoring. To be honest, he kind of made a donkey of himself. Of course it’s stressful in a game when then the third string (the Lonely Bunch as I call it) gets sent out to relieve first and second string. Many times, they’ve fouled out. (I had a coach say once that’s the sign of a good aggressive player. But remember, four to stay alive, five, say goodbye.)  

Anyway, making wise use of peripheral vision is extremely valuable in basketball because offensive players can “hold” the defense with their eyes and see open spaces and players peripherally, which provides the ball carrier with more offensive options. These days I use my peripheral vision to watch the movements of my youngest grandson and cars racing past me at 80 and 90 MPH on Highway 41A South. Just had to throw that in there.  

Another important facet of basketball is time. I encourage the players with those sweaty palms Saturday night to savor each moment. Before sinking the ball at the foul line (yes we will), say a prayer, if you believe, or think to yourself, “There’s no place like home.”  

So, with the big game in Unionville tonight (yeah!) let’s all show the region, state, how proud we are of our team and local high school. But, let’s also demonstrate that we’re good sports, no matter who wins. (Well, that might exclude some bad calls by referees. Just joking, guys.)  

Really, let’s all try to be friends and congratulate one another when the game clock stops. I suspect for most of the Viqueens, that will be when life really begins. Blessings alma mater! I’m praying and rooting for your big win against York Institute! (Sorry, Jamestown friends.)  

Sincerely, from an old (OK I admit it) Viqueen sister-in-arms . . . . let’s kick some . . . !  

Perhaps coaching is more my forte? Hmm. It’s a thought.