Not very often do I write columns like this, but I felt that this needed to be addressed.
As I attend the Flora Wolves and Wolfgals games this season, I have saw something that I found very sad and disappointing. I looked into the stands on the home side of the gym and noticed that they were about one-third to one-half full. Then I looked at the student section and it was the same thing.
“Flora fans in Conley Gymnasium is something special. This is a program with deep heritage. We may be struggling this year, but at the same time it is the same boys that put on that Flora Wolves uniform that will get the same respect that the ones before them get that respect,” Coach Phil Leib said. “We had a much better crowd tonight on this side but I would like to see more students come out. I’d love to see other people out there but people want to support winners. They may not be doing it on the board but they are winners.”
During my time in high school (1988-92), Conley Gym was packed every Tuesday or Friday night when there was a home game. Granted back in the 80’s and 90’s the Wolves had the height that they lack today. How many teams could have a 6’4” player shooting from 19-feet away while a 6’7” center was inside controlling the post? I know that Coach Leib would like to have this again. But such is life where the Wolves don’t have it and who knows if they ever will again.
Why aren’t people going to Wolves’ games? What will it take to get back to this point?
I took a picture of the crowd at the start of the varsity game and sent it to FHS Basketball legend and second all-time leading scorer Tim Locum. He shared the same response that I had. Of course when Locum roamed the floor of Conley Gym, you would have been hard pressed to find a seat in Conley. It didn’t matter if it was Lawrenceville, Fairfield, Carmi or any other team.
Coach Leib remembers what it was like to see a capacity crowd back when he was a player.
“It was electrifying and exciting. People were standing up. You hear stories about having to wait in line for such and such but I never understood that because I was playing. We had some great team and great players back then. We may not necessarily have the caliber but we have the same effort that we put out back then. Regardless if we have the same win-loss, that shouldn’t dictate how you come out and support,” Coach Leib said.
However, not only do the Wolves need the support, but also the Wolfgals.
Tonight is Senior Night for the Wolfgals as they will honor Kelsey Krutsinger, Bailey Pearce and Danielle Stewart for their years of service to the Wolfgals program. This will be the final time that these three seniors will walk on to the floor of Conley Gym as members of the Wolfgals.
“The girls play hard and they play together. They’re fun to be around and fun to watch. They compete. For what they lack in size, the come out, they work hard and they listen. They’re good, hardworking kids, not only on the court but in school and in the community,” Coach Todd Countryman said.
This is a squad under the direction of Coach Todd Countryman that for the first time since Todd’s father-in-law, Rick Porter was the coach, has won back-to-back regional titles.
Many of the same things that were said about the Wolves also apply to the Wolfgals.
Tonight is the final home game for the Wolfgals. The Wolves are home tomorrow night against Casey and will be home for the final time in the regular season on Feb. 17 against Red Hill. I challenge you to come to Conley Gym and show your support for these athletes that represent our community to the best of their ability.