If you’ve been somewhere long enough, there are yearly events you don’t even have to circle on your calendar anymore.
Instead, you just commit it to memory that you’ll be there in attendance.
This past week was one of those instances for me as I covered the seventh annual Puyallup Vikings “Old vs. “New” alumni basketball game. The game is a staple of my schedule and is one of the highlights of the summer sports calendar. It’s great seeing the generations of Vikings hoopsters on the floor and in the stands.
Stefon Lyons, who graduated in 2011, was in his second season as an alumni player this year. I remember in the summer of 2009 when Lyons, Jay Balmer, Dalton Daniels and Dom Holub were on the Vikings varsity team going up against the alumni players. This past week all four players were on the alumni team they used to compete against a mere five years ago. Lyons’ grandfather Ron Crowe, who graduated from PHS in 1956, was in the stands watching his grandson. Crowe is the only Puyallup High basketball player in school history to play for the University of Washington men’s basketball team. Brandon Bakke, who graduated from PHS in 1991 and went on to play college basketball at Fresno State University, was the alumni game announcer. Vikings’ current coach Scott Campbell enjoyed seeing the camaraderie between current players, former players and members of the community. He has been the head coach of the Vikings boys basketball team since the 2007-08 season.
“You got guys that played a long time ago, and then you have some that played for me come through,” Campbell said. “It’s really fun to see how the relationships have developed and grown over the years. Those alumni guys are still excited about Vikings basketball, and it’s really fun to watch them play again. It brings back a lot of memories.”
Another reason why I enjoy covering the alumni game so much is due to the high-caliber level of basketball played on the floor. Most of the players on the court were Division I or Division II athletes in either football or basketball. The game always features slam dunks, tenacious defense and great open floor play. The contest is intense as ever but never gets out of control. Everyone on the court gives 100 percent effort and respects each other from tip-off to the final buzzer.
During breaks in the action, I had the chance to talk with the two officials working the game. One of them told me working the Puyallup alumni game was one of his favorite events of the year. I told him I felt the exact same way.
Shaun Scott: 253-552-7002 shaun.scott @puyallupherald.com Twitter: @herald_shaun