View from the cheap seats
A weekly perspective on sports
Casey Krautkramer Reporter The Record-Review
As a huge sports fan myself, this week is agony not being able to watch the NCAA college basketball tournament while possibly also covering the Stratford varsity boy’s basketball team playing in its first state tournament in school history.
I had an eery feeling as I drove up to Wausau West High School on Thursday to cover the Stratford against Auburndale boy’s basketball sectional semifi nal game, because I had my pick of most any parking spot I wanted. This was a strange scene for a big time high school boy’s basketball playoff game.
Then I entered the Wausau West commons and I couldn’t hear the usual roar of a large crowd nor any student pep band playing “Eye of the Tiger.” All I could hear upon entering the Wausau West gym was music being played on the sound system, similar to the gym atmosphere during holiday basketball tournaments when the students are on breaks from school.
To his credit, the Wausau West basketball game anouncer did the best job he could in getting the couple hundred fans in attendance excited for this big sectional playoff game.
I noticed an interesting banner hung on the gym wall stating Wausau West High School is celebrating 50 years of existence, from 1970 until today. I recall my Marathon boy’s varsity basketball team playing non-conference games against Wauau West in its gym the the mid-1990s. When I was in middle school, I can still remember attending Harlem Globetrotter games in the Wausau West gym.
Of course, Jack Kramer sponsored my Rib River Fire Brigade team which played in former Gus Macker tournament held between the Wausau West and Wausau Newman high schools. I played on the team with Marathon natives David Perrodin, Jeff Cichon and Randy Wokatsch.
Back to Thursday’s playoff game, I can’t remember the last time I could actually hear the basketball players’ sneakers squeek on the hardwood foor. It was an odd feeling, that’s for sure!
My heart goes out to the following eight Stratford boys basketball seniors who will never get the chance to win a sectional championship and play in the state tournament, because of the current coronavirus pandemic: Teddy Redman, Kam Kopf, Chandler Schmidt, Dawson Danen, Tyler Lappe, Vaughn Breit, Ben Barten and Nick Fox.
I saw high school sports fans in the state were signing a petition circulated on Facebook to persuade the WIAA to let the boys and girls basketball teams continue playing the remainder of their games this season in gyms with no fans. This is an honorable jesture by fans, but there is no way anyone would be able to convince the WIAA to change their plans during the current coronavirus pandemic.