Our area loves Billtown Bomber Basketball! It’s not just Williamsfield people, it’s greater than that. When we made it to state in ‘97, everyone around here was a Bomber fan. They root for us because deep down we all root for the underdog. And when you grow up in the lower to middle class portion of rural America, nothing is better than watching the underdog win! But when you grow up inside Billtown Bomber Basketball, it’s different. It’s more than that.
Being a Bomber is the relentless work that goes into combating Goliath day after day. It’s living with the knowledge that you either make a difference, or a difference isn’t made. It’s the expectation that you WILL prepare for battle and you will ALWAYS compete. You will leave it on the floor night after night and there is no one else to do it. You are it and it WILL be done.
Growing up with that mindset does something to you. It convinces you that you are capable of more than you ever thought possible. And that stays with you the rest of your life. In my case it transformed a fairly shy, fairly chubby teenage boy into a determined young man confident he could achieve whatever he set his mind to. And I’ve seen that story play out again and again over the years. I’ve watched it occur in the young men who are Billtown Bomber Basketball players today.
My earliest Bomber memories are of watching my dad play men’s league games with guys like Coach Anderson, Terry Hart, Phil Doubet, and Rick Secrist. I vividly remember the day Coach Anderson was at our house and he went to his car to retrieve the most rotten, worn Rawlings basketball you could ever imagine. He gave it to me and my brother for use on our outdoor hoop. It was awesome! I told myself, one day, I would be a Bomber!
I remember sitting in the bleachers of the old gym watching Bobby Ross sink shots from the baseline. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I remember watching Ronnie Newell catch Todd Moore’s desperation shot and score to win at the buzzer. I remember sitting in the top row of bleachers in the new gym at a packed house as my dad’s Brimfield Indians beat my beloved Bombers in overtime. I watched. I cheered. As a 5th-grader I tried to show cheerleaders like Cathy Folger and Meg Self how funky my chicken was at every game. My cousins and I took turns being Chris Howard and Tony Fuller as we destroyed the upstairs of their home with wild Nerf basketball games. We were going to be BOMBERS!
We started out as freshmen on the line at 6:59am with Phil, practiced the art of the unintentional intentional foul with my dad as coach our sophomore year, and progressed to the infamous Aggressor Drill with Coach Anderson as juniors and seniors. We were finally BOMBERS! We played together. We fought together. We bled together. And after our last game, we cried together. We would be Bomber basketball players no more. But as I aged, I realized that wasn’t true.
I discovered that being a Bomber wasn’t about the uniform. It was about who I am as a person. It was about what I stand for. And these characteristics have been passed down from Marvin to Jake Secrist. They’ve been passed down from Carl to Ethen Hunt. And they’ve been passed from Paul Anderson, to Coach Anderson, and onto the rest of us all.
Looking back, my favorite part of being a Bomber Basketball player wasn’t game night, it was the connection I had with others around the community through this shared set of beliefs. It was hanging around after practice with my cousin Joel waiting to play ball with the “old guys.” Guys like Chuck Ingle, Curt Mackie, Ed Lewis, and Doug Strom. It was waking up on Sunday mornings and riding up here with my brother to get the snot knocked out of me by Phil Doubet and Eddie Scott. It was dragging Ryan Hart out of bed so we would have enough guys for a game. It was 3-on-3 at the playground until Mike sent Travis home crying. And it was one more year of that until Travis was so much better than us that it was no longer fun to play.
So this is the end of Billtown Bomber Basketball at the high school level. Does that mean my 8-year old son will never be a Bomber like his dad, his uncle, his great-uncles and his grandpa? No. Absolutely not! MY KIDS WILL BE BOMBERS! Because being a Bomber is about pouring your heart and soul into something greater than yourself. Being a Bomber is about demanding more of yourself than you ever thought possible. Being a Bomber is about preparation and hustle. Being a Bomber is about making yourself vulnerable and diving when the ball is on the floor so that YOU make a difference in this world.
My kids will be BOMBERS! I couldn’t be prouder. If you can’t hear me, I’ll yell a little louder!
Tim Farquer, Superintendent