Chris Graham: Let us now praise famous kids

Four state tournaments in five years. And that’s just the Waynesboro High School boys’ basketball team. The girls have had their runs in recent years, too, including an appearance in the 2008 Group AA state-title game led by the sublime Devon Brown.

I’ve had the fortune to be able to coach in the rec league at the Waynesboro YMCA on two different occasions now – for a run of four years ending in 2003 and then again this winter. I think the Y and the Waynesboro Basketball Club are due a pat or two on the back for teaching kids basketball fundamentals and team play and more importantly perhaps just providing an outlet for youngsters in need of something positive.

Waynesboro is still figuring itself in a lot of ways. The economy has grown a good bit in the past decade, overtaking Staunton as the region’s commercial center, but that’s coincided with the steady loss of manufacturing jobs that had formed the anchor of the local economy. Those jobs have largely been replaced by jobs in the retail and service sectors, or not at all – Waynesboro’s unemployment rate consistently outpaces the state average by a percentage point or two.

Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of our kids in public schools in the city qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches.

In the face of all this, we have basketball, something we’ve always been good at in Waynesboro, which has produced an NBA star (Cory Alexander), a successful Division I college-basketball coach (James Madison women’s coach Kenny Brooks), and an awful lot of good kids, productive citizens, mothers and fathers, valuable employees.

That’s what it’s really all about. The success in the postseason is just icing on the cake. It gives us a chance to swell our chests when our kids make the state-news headlines, gives them memories to last a lifetime, and a building block to go on from here.

But that’s all in the future. Right now it’s about making another run to Richmond. Go, Little Giants!

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