Flashback: BeefLoaf’s Stories of DeLaSalle Meteors basketball – The Revenge Game

Sometimes before the 108 podcast or a live event, you can find me wiggling around and basically looking like a fucking crazy man. Chorizy and MSS will occasionally make mention of it on the podcast that I was basically dancing in my seat before we started recording. I learned positive visualization and mental preparation when I was at DeLaSalle, actually I learned it from a baseball coach Terry Ehardt, who happened to be the assistant coach of my Sophomore basketball team. It’s been useful ever since.

I have mentioned previously in these Flashback blogs that I played basketball at DeLaSalle for Tom White. Well, Coach White, who has now been at DeLaSalle for 25 years, was in his first year as head coach at D my Senior year (the ’95-’96 season). When I was a Junior, I played for Tony Rappold, who had gone to DeLaSalle as a player and then came back as the head coach. Tony’s job was likely in jeopardy my Junior year going in. You see, he had recruited a bumper crop full of talent with my class and the class after us, including some future NBA players like Randy Holcomb and Omari Traylor.

It’s wild that the only picture I can find of Tony Rappold on the web is him getting a haircut

Unfortunately for Tony, these kids had either transferred, were threatening to transfer or would transfer shortly after the season. It was a rough scene. Regardless, as a Junior, old BeefLoaf barely played, even though the Varsity team that year was all Juniors and Sophomores (shoutout Coach O). Tony just didn’t think I was any good. I did get one good opportunity in a game that mattered that year at the Pontiac Xmas Tournament. It was our 2nd game and a bunch of people got into foul trouble so the sparsely used BeefLoaf entered the game. I logged 5 mins, had 4 points, 2 rebounds, a block shot and a steal. I had a nice give and go fast break situation with my guy Brian Banks (who would also transfer after the season). I played good and then I sat on the bench for a couple more months till the season ended.

When Coach White took over for Coach Rappold I had a meeting with Coach White and asked him if I’d get to actually play in the ’95-’96 season. What balls on me huh. I mean, I don’t mind being a battering ram in practice, but I wanted some burn on Friday and Saturday nights. I want my friends, my family and the ladies to see old BeefLoaf getting in the game. Tom White promised me that I would and he made good on that promise, as I played in nearly every game my Senior year (it was a bit tenuous the first week of the season in the Thanksgiving Tournament at York, but that’s a story for another time).

In the meantime Coach Rappold was almost immediately hired as the head coach of the Leo Lions. That’s right, we would get a chance to play them, AT HOME, that season. I had that date circled on my calendar. REVENGE GAME!!

Fast Forward to the ’95-’96 season……The way the game was lining up, both teams kept winning (us and them) and we were going to collide on this Friday night as both undefeated in the conference and likely playing to a large crowd.

DeLaSalle’s old gym (which is still standing, but is no longer where they play basketball) held like 800 people. The estimates early in the week were that there were going to be 1,200 people at this game. In fact they asked us players to reserve tickets early in the week for friends and family to ensure all our people could attend. They were going to sell tix at the door, but take no risks, as they’d have to cut off sales at some point. I kid you not, our gym was gonna be packed. I remember finishing up walk-throughs on Friday afternoon and the Operations folks were in the the gym roping off the floor because the plan was going to be to allow people to stand in and around the court. You see, DeLaSalle’s old basketball court had stairs up to the seating, so it was above the court. The plan for this game, with the over flow crowd, was to let fans crowd down around the court, standing.

I left school after the walkthrough, like I always did, planning to return early for the Sophomore game (Chorizy was on the Sophomore team) to just chill out and watch a bit before it was GO TIME. Our little players section right outside the locker room where there were a dozen or so chairs was roped off “PLAYERS ONLY” and even during the fucking Sophomore game there had to be 500 people there already. I was pretty sure their estimates would come through.

End of the 3rd quarter in the Sophomore game it was time to go get dressed and get ready. Now, it doesn’t take much time to get in a basketball uni, so once everyone is dressed and Tom White has spoken to us we have some time before we hit the floor. Our general practice was to shut the lights off and have a fucking mosh pit, screaming and yelling at each other to get some nervous energy out AND to get hyped up for the game.

This “mosh pit” was usually a lot of fun, I was averagish height for a basketball player (6’2″), but I was 205 lbs, so I had a bigger build and usually was in no danger in this pre-game ritual. Usually…unfortunately for the BeefLoaf and ran into Phil Chavarria, who was 6’4″ 225 lbs and we collided hard….even with all the adrenaline flowing, I could tell my shoulder took the brunt of that collision and it wasn’t quite right. Moments later, we are emerging out of the locker room to hit the floor for warm ups in front of a SOLD OUT crowd!!

My first few layups feel okay, but as we stretch it out and start bombing 3’s in the last couple minutes of the warm up, I am just fucking chucking the ball, my shooting shoulder throbbing. My shots, highly inaccurate. OH BOY! Fucking REVENGE GAME and I’m banged up right before the game.

Once the horn sounded and it was time for the National Anthem, I would always slide to the very back of our team line up as we stood. I’m not terribly patriotic, but I needed to take those final moments before the game to get mental control, to think about how hard I worked to get here, to remember how my parents, friends, former coaches and people from my grade school were in the stands, there to see me play the game. I owe it to myself and to them to be at my absolute best, even if that absolute best is just drawing Tyron Triplett’s 4th foul. One last moment to psych myself up into thinking I DO BELONG here, get rid of that imposter syndrome in my head and remind myself I’m a real one and I’m gonna play great!

The game starts fast and back and forth with a ton of early excitement. Quarter one ends and I know I’m likely entering this game very soon. I usually got most of my “burn” (aka playing time) in the 2nd quarter. Sure enough, approximately 6 minutes left in the 2nd quarter, Tom White calls my name and I race to the scorers table and then into the game.

The Leo Lions were on the free throw line when I entered the game. I take a spot to the right of the shooter on the paint waiting for the second shot. The shooter releases and misses the free throw off to his left side (opposite side of me) and as I have my player boxed out, I see one of our people corralling the ball. I spin out of my block out and take off for the other end.


Faster than BeefLoaf

Like legit Slow….probably one of the slowest guys on any team in the Catholic League at that time. I was quick enough in a short distance, but my sprint speed kinda sucked (still does). However, by some fucking miracle, I have gotten behind the defense, by just putting my head down and sprinting. When I get just outside the 3 point line on our end of the court I pick my head up….and it’s a good thing.

Earl Brown is the best basketball player I have ever been on a team with. It’s not particularly close. He’s the best player, the hardest working player and the smartest player. I played with him all 4 years at DeLaSalle and he was the point guard. He played 4 years as a starter at Loyola University and then professionally over seas. He’s in the DeLaSalle sports Hall of Fame. He’s a fucking LEGEND.

Earl Brown playing over seas

As I pick my head up from a dead sprint, I can see the ball just feet from me, and a flexed Earl Brown from having just snapped a bullet to me. For as slow footed as I was, I had terrific hands and good reaction time. I caught the ball in-stride and put the ball on the deck. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see a Leo defender sprinting to catch up to me. Clearly being quicker than old BeefLoaf, he slides down and tries to get in position to take a charge as I leave my feet from the left hand side of the basket, but making a right hand layup on the angle. We collide and both go flying under the basket, tumbling to the ground in a heap. As I look up and turn my head I can see the ball going through the hoop and an over enthusiastic official running over to swing his fist towards the ground signaling that not only is the basket good, but there is also a foul on Leo (AND ONE!). I pop up to 1,200 people going absolutely fucking bonkers for old BeefLoaf. Earl Brown ran up to me and said “Damn BeefLoaf, you came to play tonight!“. I had.

I was flexin’ just like in this pic

Now only one little problem. I have a free throw to show and my shoulder is marshmallows from the pre-game mosh pitting accident. Well, I guess there is only 1,200 people here, that’s not too many to see me shoot an airball, right? FUCK THAT!! I fired the ball as hard as I could and luckily it caught some iron and looked like a real shot. I played a few more minutes, we ended up coasting to a double digit victory and we were the toast of the town that night.

It felt good to get back, to prove to myself that I do belong that I should’ve been playing more the year before and to make sure Tony Rappold got a taste of that medicine. So do what you gotta do to get yourself up for whatever task it is you gotta do. And believe, you ain’t some sucker, you belong and you gotta show them.


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