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Letter To Sports

Dear Sports Editor:

In 1995, Silver Creek’s Tom Sharrow, organized the first Chautauqua County Exceptional Senior All-Star Game. For many years, Ripley’s Jeff Bucholz was in charge, followed by many more years of expert tutelage by Panama’s Loren Smith. Recently, the Chautauqua County Basketball Officials have assumed responsibility for the game. Over the years, the game has evolved into one of the premier events of its type in our region. In its 25 years of existence, the game has honored over 1,000 players. Thousands more spectators have cheered the participants. Tens of thousands of dollars have been donated to worthy charities and student-athlete scholarships. Recently, Board 39 has partnered with Tory Irgang of the Chautauqua County Community Foundation to further assist and enhance managing our charitable contributions. All factors considered, the game has evolved into an unmitigated success.

This year’s game, was a game unlike any other. As of March 13, game planning progressed, as it had in previous years; players names were submitted, teams were selected, practices were scheduled, the game date was set for March 18.

Less than one week before the game was to be played, the world changed as we knew it. The coronavirus, COVID-19, “the new normal” social distancing, etc., all were introduced and became part of our daily vocabulary. All of us were required to make sacrifices, without the benefit of input or choice. The honored seniors sacrificed their last chance to play organized high school basketball for their schools, families and friends. The Sherman Wildcats, Dunkirk Lady Marauders and Panama Lady Panthers won sectional titles, but sacrificed lifelong dreams of competing for a state title. All student-athletes sacrificed their spring sports seasons. A lesson in life is our ability to accept and cope with things, especially things we do not choose, prefer or control, that we cannot change. The coronavirus-induced cancellations foistered those student athletes certainly applies.

Through the generosity and understanding of our advertisers — refunds were offered to everyone when the game was postponed, and while the offer still stands with this official cancellation, to date, not one advertiser has requested a refund — we will deliver two souvenir programs and a personalized game jersey to each of the 58 honored athletes. Despite the loss of game-night revenues, we also are able to make a generous donation to the Community Foundation honoring local Chautauqua County student-athletes.

Despite the most difficult circumstances, totally beyond our control, we believe the spirit of high school basketball competition and the privilege of charitable giving has been honored and achieved. Thank you to all who helped!

In doing so, the 2020 Chautauqua County Exceptional Senior All-Star Game may have been our best game ever … and we never played the game.

Dr. Brent L. Deuink, D.M.D.

Executive Committee, Board 39

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