Morning Ball: Pre-breakfast hoops feeds the friendly competitive spirit

DRIVING to the basket at the Hood River Sports Club is Marc Geller, while Mike Roberts defends. Behind them are Brian Aaron and Chris Davis.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
DRIVING to the basket at the Hood River Sports Club is Marc Geller, while Mike Roberts defends. Behind them are Brian Aaron and Chris Davis.

The regular crowd shuffles in, to borrow a line from Billy Joel.

But it is 6 a.m. at the gym, not nighttime at some piano bar.

The scene is one of two basketball courts, where the pre-breakfast competition is a friendly mix of “old-guy basketball” and some higher-gear play that the teens and 20-somethings bring.

The shuffling soon turns to drives, dishes and the setting of screens.

At Hood River Sports Club on Fridays, and Horizon Christian School on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, between eight and 16 men, and a few women, regularly start play at 6 a.m.

There are Sunday afternoon games at Horizon, and evening games at Whitson Elementary in White Salmon that draw a Gorge-wide crowd, and other evening and weekend “runs” in Hood River and environs, but a distinct tradition has taken hold in two courts in Hood River in what is fondly called “morning ball.”

The Sports Club game evolved from a “cops and lawyers” game, about 15 years ago, with a few of the attorneys including Brian Aaron and Marc Geller still, well, holding court, with a mix of guys who are now three- to six-year regulars, says Pat Graham of Hood River. Ron Phillips, Shaun Anderson and Clark Bryant are among the new glue.

“We play Friday mornings because for a lot of us it works out all right to be a little late for work that day.” said Graham, who works at Columbia River Insurance.

Love of the game the two settings have in common, but there are differences. The Sports Club players mostly are club members who use the gym as part of their dues. The game at Horizon started nearly 12 years ago through Community Education, and like the Sports Club “run,” it draws an eclectic mix of players who get along great.

Players pay $2 a day with the funds going to the school, and the game is three days a week. The group started at May Street School, and stalwarts including Levi Beckman, Jason Shaner and Joel Ives kept things going through a couple years of perhaps three-on-three before the open gym hit its stride about eight years ago.

When Horizon AD Oscar Stenberg III (a hoopster from way back) heard four years ago that the “run” at May Street court was a bit crowded, he invited the group to rent the newly built Hawk’s Nest.

Mainly what sets 6 a.m. ball apart from other hoops is that arguments are rare. Just about the most extreme form of dawn-ball dispute is a long the lines of “No, it’s your ball — I definitely fouled you.”

There is also a familial quality to morning ball. At Horizon and the Sports Club, dads such as Chris Davis (who plays both venues) and myself have watched our kids Logan and Jared, and Connal, emerge from “little guys” to dominant players.

Friday at Sports Club, Marc Geller brought his son Levi, 13, for the first time. The wheels keep on turning.

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

Log in to comment

News from our Community Partners