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Girmindl's Ghost

A diary of Shaker High School's 2005-2006 basketball season, a retelling of Shaker's fabled 1979-1980 season, and general commentary on high school hoops, updated daily...

"I like sitting in the back row. I found that sitting against the wall is just easier on your back." -Dean Smith, on the comfort of the H-gym bleachers

Thank you...

Acknowledgements, 2005-06: First off, if you haven't read the Albany game recap yet, start there. Then maybe check out what's next for Girmindl's Ghost in the coming weeks. Then come back and read this post.

Before my readership disappears, I wanted to take the opportunity to thank the multitude of people who helped make the 2005-06 portion of Girmindl's Ghost such a joy to write this year. No matter how much it looks like an individual effort, writing projects are always reliant on dozens of people to make them work well. Girmindl's Ghost is a testament to that truth.

Without further ado, I'd like to thank...

First, the team. Non-fiction writing is only as good as the subject you are writing about. You guys made it easy. Congratulations on an outstanding year, and thanks for all the memories. No one is soon to forget this team, least of all me.

I'd like to thank a few people on the team in particular. Matt Bodgan first contacted me way back in the fall when I was initially considering following the team for the year. His encouragement and interest in the project ultimately spurred me to do it. He also sat for an extended interview that really gave me a feel for the team.

Brad Sheehan contacted me early on in the season when I was still feeling out my style and figuring out how I was going to do things. He offered me continuous insight into the mood of the team and was always available to answer any questions I had via email. Brad also sat for an extended interivew and discussed all aspects of the team with me.

Ryan Dare, Tom Duclos, and Vernon Cross also sat for interviews, the latter two of which still have not been published. Their candidness was indispensable to my understanding of the team, and my continued thinking about its dynamics.

I was probably more optimistic than a writer should be about the season. I had planned on conducting two or three player interviews this week, and maybe a few more before the title game the week after. My apologies to Hans, EC, Griff, Hooks, Schaller, Fallon, and Kahnle. I certainly wished I could have talked to all of you before it was over. In fact, I probably still will, since I'm toying with writing a book about all of this. So don't forget anything, fellas.

Coach Holmes was enthusiastic about the blog from the moment he found out about it, and he was always available for a quote or just to talk Shaker basketball. I conducted one extended interview with him, and I wish our second one - scheduled for after Shaker won the section title - was going to happen. Coach Brehm was always available to chat, and I wish I had taken him up more often on it, as he was very helpful.

Second, the students. Perhaps the single thing I love most about high school basketball is the intensity of the fans. And this year's Shaker students were among the best ever in that capacity.

Tom Maldonado, Chris Caradori, and Joe Bianchino were invaluable to me throghout the season. They were constantly available to answer questions, offer opinions, and even write game recaps when I couldn't make it to the game. Tom and Chris sat for an extended interview about the 6th man, giving me great insight into the current Shaker student body.

Tom, Chris, and Joe also convinced me that it would be a good idea to come sit with the students for the game, perhaps the most memorable night of the season for me. They were excellent hosts in the 6th man, and despite my being 10 years older than them, they never once treated me like an adult. Thanks, guys.

Other students were extremely helpful to me that night. I did short interviews with perhaps 15 or 20 students that night. Particular thanks to Kyla and Moe, who did extended interviews via email to help me fill out my story. Throughout the season, 6th man members wrote emails, talked to me at games, and otherwise helped me understand both the team and its fans.

Third, the adult fans. I never imagined so many people who sat in the Shaker bleachers would read Girmindl's Ghost. It was actually a little awkward by January. I was something like a B-list celebrity in the bleachers, and that's definitely something I'm not completely used to. Luckily, virtually all of the feedback I got in the bleachers was positive.

Particular thanks goes to a few people. The Sheehan family was always quick to talk to me, give me some insight about the team, and generally be very receptive to my inquires. Bill Hooks gave me plenty of information, and not to mention more than a few Twix bars, all of it unsolicited but very appreciated.

I also had a large contingent of adults who I never met in the bleachers but got to know pretty well via email. Although they are too numerous to mention, they were all helpful with their candid assessments of the games and the team, and for continually reprimaning me when my bias or judgement was a bit off. Thank you.

Fourth, the tech-side. Despite me constantly tearing them to shreds, the Times Union stuck with me. For that I'm grateful, because they helped me reach a far wider audience than I ever could have imagined. Mike Huber was a patient and keenly helpful boss who was able to give me quick and friendly technical support, day after day. Jim Margolis was extremely helpful in accomadating my incessant requests for aditional exposure and hype for the blog.

Fifth, the readers: I never expected thousands of people to read Girmind's Ghost. But that's what happened. I was sincerely flattered that so many people enjoyed following a Shaker hoops season through my eyes. It was gratifying to know that there are other people out there who love high school basketball, even if they don't have a connection to the team. Thank you for the kind words, helpful critiques, and reassuring support during the season.

Finally, I'd like to thank my wife, Sarahjane. Sarah was an enthusiastic supporter of Girmindl's Ghost from the first day I mentioned it as an idea in the Spring of 2005. She loves high school basketball almost as much as I do, so it wasn't a big chore to get her to the games. But it did require a lot of understanding on her part when she had to sit in the bleachers alone as I conducted an interview, or chatted with people in the hall, or went off to sit in the student section. She never complained once. Her willingness to spend entire dinners talking about the team was remarkable, and her ability to see things at the game that I often missed was a godsend. Ultimately, her love and support was the reason I was able to juggle the pressure of work and school and blogging as well as I did. Thanks you, sweetie.

On the other hand, I wouldn't expect anything less from a girl I decided to ask on a date while I was sitting in the student section.

I'm sure that I'm leaving plenty of people out right now (I'm aware that I haven't mentioned anyone who helped me with the '79-80 stuff - that will come later), and for that I apologize.

Again, thank you.
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