“There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others.“
- Mandy Hale
Pete Pritchett was absent when his 1991 state championship basketball team was honored last weekend by the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
He was here in Bedford, living out his final 24 hours. I regret not calling him and speaking to Pete one last time.
You’ve probably read a few tributes this week about one of Lawrence County’s all-time favorite coaches. The ones I perused were poignant and darn near perfect.
Thank you for sharing those words.
Pete undoubtedly was a legend.
But if I had called him that’s not what I would have mentioned. Sometimes it is hard to muster the strength to tell people the heartfelt truth, exactly what needs to be conveyed.
I would have told my dear friend that he excelled exceptionally in patience and kindness. Basketball was only one aspect of the meaningful impact he had on so many young lives.
After he retired from teaching I can’t count the multitude of young people I met who identified Pete as their favorite teacher. No, they were not basketball players.
Not only did he go out of his way to help his students, they trusted him implicitly. Pete made everyone feel special.
I recall one afternoon I went to the gym to interview him. I was in an unusually glum mood. He sensed it.
A few minutes into the chat, he suddenly stared at me and flashed a gruff expression.
“Hey,” he barked. “You’ve been causing some problems at my house.“
Shocked, I stared at him with my mouth wide-open.
He flashed a big grin and explained: “My family is fighting over who gets to read the sports section first.”
We laughed, and that morose mood magically slipped away.
Pete made you feel unique and important.
He would often request me to accompany him on his scouting missions. Before the game he instructed me to pair the upcoming opponent’s offensive players with our defenders. We sat quietly during the action. When the game was over he shot me a serious look and ordered: “Let me have it.”
I gave him a detailed account of how the Stars should match up with the opposing team. He responded by slapping me on the shoulder, breaking into a big smile, and then persuading me - in no uncertain terms - that’s why he brought me along.
Pete Pritchett had more basketball knowledge in his little finger than I possessed in my entire body. He didn’t need me, but he wanted me to think he did.
Pete raised a fabulous family including cherished children Aaron and Kristin and grandchildren Austin and McKenzie. They are fun and fundamentally sound.
Back in the 1990s I attended a party in Bedford. A Lady Star was present.
The circumstances of the event were not good. Some older guests had consumed too much alcohol, and so had her friend. The Lady Star, sober and well-behaved, was clearly concerned about the well-being of her wobbly pal.
I told the girls I would see them home safely.
The former Star jumped at the offer.
On the way to their destination I looked and spied a tear rolling down the cheek of the former BNL basketball player.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
Her embarrassed expression said it all.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I bet you’ll never look at me like a Lady Star again.”
I touched her softly on the shoulder and replied: “You are wrong. You did exactly what you should’ve done. You protected a friend when she desperately needed it.”
Pete instilled a healthy portion of goodness and pride in his girls … and a needy sportswriter to boot.
I love you, Pete. Your girls were peaches.
Thank you for sharing those precious bushels with me for all those years.
Bob Bridge welcomes comments at 812-276-9646 or firstname.lastname@example.org.