Driving home one Saturday morning, I was listening to "Ask Me Another" on the radio, when they had the following question for the contestants; “Who was The Squire of Kennett Square?” Well, of course, it was baseball player Herb Pennock, but who would really know that? None of the contestants it seems. I began to realize that Kennett hits above its weight class when it comes to sports. We have had our share of famous athletes like Donny Webster, Bobby Morse, and would Barbaro count?
It also got me to thinking, more than just famous sports figures, Kennett offers great sports experiences for our youth. My experiences included track (Coaches Lewis and Messinger), basketball (Coach Nate Kendig), soccer (Coach Ken Webb and Ed Holcroft) and Baseball (Coach George Starr). Today the opportunity for sports has expanded to ice hockey, tennis, wrestling, lacrosse, football, and even ultimate frisbee. The opportunities to be part of great teams learning life skills has also been brought to women and girls in the community thanks to Title IX and endless efforts from coaches and participants.
The opportunities abound in our community for both team and individual sports. My son-in-law has described Kennett and the surrounding area as one of the most idyllic and tranquil places to go and lose yourself on a run. I have had to slow down to "jogging" three miles a day and "running" on Saturday mornings with the Buckley Striders. This Saturday I am doing the 36-mile Brandywine Trail hike.
To this day, one of my greatest pleasures is getting my haircut at Bobby Burton's in downtown Kennett and talking sports. He and Prissy Roberts are behind the Kennett Old Timers Baseball Association Hall of Fame Dinner. It doesn't hurt that across from
Bob's barber's chair is the Kennett Square Wall of Fame which includes a picture of Coach Dan Augustine's Kennett High School basketball team that won districts and went on to States a decade (or two) ago. I would recognize that picture anywhere because my son Stephen is in the back row, standing tall.
I was reading an article in Sports Illustrated by Dan Jenkins, the famous golf journalist from Texas who recently passed on March 8; “The Glory Game at Goat Hills. Good Times and Good Ole Boys on a Texas Golf Course.” It had me reminiscing about my father, my youth, and some of my greatest Kennett memories playing golf at the Kennett Golf and Country Club under Ike Turner, the resident Pro.
My father was from West Texas and resettled in Kennett after The War working for DuPont. My father loved golf and taught my siblings and me some of life’s values through the game. Golf to him was about playing against oneself; playing with focus, honesty, and love.
He would say that he could put the #3 forecast to bed on a Friday afternoon at work and get out on the #1 tee at his Kennett Club and by the time he got down the hill, all he cared about was getting the little white ball into the cup. All his worries were gone. I did learn to hit the ball a long way thinking that was what the game was about – big mistake as I continued to play. “Drive for show, putt for dough” was Dad’s wisdom.
The day after Dad’s memorial service in November ’96, Geoff Bates sponsored us to play the Kennett course one last time for Dad. It was supposed to rain all day, but the gray, cool afternoon held out perfectly for our seven-sum of me, my three brothers, brother-in-law, son, and son-in-law.
We had the whole course to ourselves to reminisce, converse, focus, and to be honest with each other. Brother Chris, the inheritor of Dad's clubs, stepped up to drive on the first tee quoting from another West Texas golf story; Tin Cup. "Let the big dogs eat." We had a great time and just as we walked up the hill to the 18th green, the heavens opened up and we were drenched. I cannot imagine a better way to say goodbye to Dad.