I needed a sweatshirt to bum around the house the other day, and one in the bottom of my bureau drawer caught my eye. Emblazoned across the front were bold green letters that read, "Chief Logan '88: Last of the Mingoes."
Although I doubt it still fits, I can't bring myself to part with it. I know it's just a piece of clothing, but it holds so many memories. I never went to Chief Logan, but I spent many a summer there when I was young. My grandmother, Florence Farran, worked as a secretary there for 33 years in the main office.
My grandfather, Ray, would take me into the school during the day to visit. I loved roaming the empty hallways and playing in the cavernous gymnasium. I looked forward to experiencing new adventures every time I went there.
I remember going to a basketball game one time and how raucous fans were for their beloved Mingoes. Even in defeat, they cheered to the bitter end. Growing up in Maine, I remember how said I felt when I heard Chief was making way for Indian Valley. I made sure I got one of those sweatshirts.
When I was hired by The Sentinel in 1991, one of my first assignments was to cover an Indian Valley basketball game. I couldn't wait to get back in the old gym, expecting to find the bleachers filled to the top and the atmosphere electric.
I was shocked to find the crowds sparse and the energy gone. It was not what it once was, and never was the same. I'm sure things will be just as different for the Mifflin County Huskies.
Like many, I miss Chief. I'm sure diehard fans of the Kishacoquillas Indians, West Snyder Mounties, Middleburg Middies and Lewistown Panthers treasure their own fond memories of an era gone by. Rothrock, anyone?
The Juniata Indians and East Juniata Tigers won't find themselves on the trash heap of retired mascots some day, as long as their coaches and boosters have anything to say about it. Many feel as passionate about maintaining the individual identities of their schools as they do about keeping their programs afloat.
Their tireless efforts should be applauded. Sports provide so much more for today's athletes than wins and losses. They provide opportunities, such as earning scholarships to help athletes further their educations. They teach integrity, sportsmanship and responsibility, all values that athletes will take with them for the rest of their lives.
And, for many, athletics creates lasting memories. Whether it was seeing former East Juniata football coach Al Ream hugging his players after beating Halifax to clinch a winning season, or the resilience of the Juniata players after falling to Line Mountain on a last-second kick, they all are cherished memories.
Maybe Juniata and East Juniata will eventually combine their teams, if the financial wells run dry. In the meantime, these athletes, coaches and boosters should be commended for their efforts and supported in the stands.
Unless the school district comes up with funding, you have a long road ahead of you. I wish you all the best in making more memories.
Greg Williams was a Sentinel sports reporter during the 1990s. He now lives in the Philadelphia area, and contributes to the sports section regularly as a correspondent, most recently contributing the series "Budget Crunch: Funding scholastic sports in Juniata County."