Once, back in 2005, I wanted to write about Riverside High's girls basketball team. At the time, it was 0-19. The Warriors were on a 43-game losing streak.
I wanted to visit the girls and pick their brains. What was this losing streak like?
I knew I could put the piece together because of their coach: Wilbur Jenkins.
When I went to Quincy, I didn't find gloom, despair or agony.
"We're having a blast," shooting guard Chelsea Hill told me.
They were. Point guard Sumer Cooper spoke of an errant pass in a game. "It went over [Hill's] head and smacked a cheerleader in the belly," she giggled. "I went, 'Oops.' "
They were the new era of the Bad News Bears.
"Yeah," Jenkins said, "but all [movie coach Morris] Buttermaker had to do was crank a couple of beers and his team was ready to go."
Get the tone? Jenkins made the sport fun. Sure he wanted the Warriors to win. But it was more important the girls had fun.
"This is the best group of kids I've ever had as a coach," Jenkins said.
Once during the stretch, Riverside almost tripped up Hurricane. After losing by 34 points earlier in the year, the Warriors fell by just one in Quincy.
"I cried afterward," Jenkins said. "I'm not afraid to say it. I cried with them. They poured their hearts out."
Now all who knew Wilbur will cry for him. Or, rather, for the loss of him.
Our big bear was a special, special man. We'll miss him terribly.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, mitchvin...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.