ELYRIA — It’s always special to give another salute to the past but it’s especially exciting when a couple of those returning alumni are part of a national championship team.
Chase Farris and Tracy Sprinkle were among 37 returning Elyria basketball alumni at Friday’s annual event. The two were on the Ohio State football team that won the title just a few weeks ago.
Both felt the championship was a product of the system.
“Our team is based on competitive excellence,” Farris said. “It’s basically not when your number’s called, it’s will you be ready when your number’s called.”
Farris saw plenty of action on the offensive line during the season.
“I just go out there and do what I can to help the team no matter what it is,” he said. “It could be taking more practice reps so the starters can get their legs back for a game or if someone goes down during a game and I go in. I just have to be ready at all times.”
Sprinkle echoed Farris.
“Coach always taught us competitive excellence and be ready when your number’s called,” Sprinkle said. “(Cardale Jones’) number was called, he was ready. Every week we grind and grind and take care of that week.”
Sprinkle had to earn his way back on the team after a late-night scuffle in Lorain nearly cost him his dream before the season started. He credits his teammates and the coaches for getting back.
“I faced a lot of adversity,” he said. “I got through it. I just wanted to be part of the team and helping the team by doing whatever I can. I want to get out there and compete for a spot next year.
“They (teammates) were all there for me. Soon as it happened, the guys all welcomed me back with open arms. They were all there for me.”
Among the others returning was Elyria’s first All-Ohio player — Lee Johnson — who led the Pioneers to their first state tournament Final Four. That team lost 54-52 to Portsmouth in a semifinal heartbreaker.
Also returning was Houston Love, a member of the 1964 Cinderella team that upset unbeaten Cleveland Rhodes in the district final at Baldwin Wallace on its way to a Final Four slot, and Hubert Oliver, starting guard of Elyria’s last regular-season unbeaten team in 1977 that also made it to Columbus.
John Dickerson, head coach at Elyria in the early 1980s, was also on hand as was Bob Slager, a longtime Pioneers assistant coach from the 1960s.
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