1977 team a truly inspiring group

Published 6:23 pm Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In Sunday’s edition of the Times-Journal, we published a story I wrote on the 1977 Selma High School basketball team.

The team won a state championship 40 years ago, becoming the first team named Selma High to win a title (Parrish High won two in the 1940s too.)

Last week, six players off that team met at Selma High School so I could take a group photo that ran with the story, but it quickly became a reunion. As the guys stepped out of their cars, the rest of the group couldn’t believe their eyes. Several of them hadn’t seen each other in 40 years and you couldn’t help but smile watching it all unfold.

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“Ken Clark is that you?” yelled several guys when Ken, the tallest player on the team, got out of his car.

Clark hadn’t been inside Selma High since graduating four decades ago and many decades ago, but he wasn’t the only one.

As we took photos, the team spent time reminiscing about close games and funny moments from all those years ago. They talked about their coaches and the people involved with the team who are no longer with us.

Listening to them talk, it felt like that season had just happened yesterday.

We could probably all learn something from that team, which came together from different backgrounds to make history.

Twelve years after the voting rights march in 1965, this integrated team came together at Selma High.

They didn’t make their championship run about race, which is kind of the point.

These guys didn’t know that they were doing anything special and probably never thought they’d be talking about it 40 years later.

White, black, purple, green — all the guys cared about was whether or not you could hoop it up, and man could they play.

The team beat three Birmingham schools on its way to the title, something that was unexpected at time.

The Selma Times-Journal called it a Cinderella run and after talking to the team, it’s clear that exactly what it was.

This story was one of the most rewarding stories I’ve written in Selma because I felt like it played a small part in bringing a large portion of the team together again.  Hopefully, it’ll be the first of many reunions the 1977 team has.

And maybe, just maybe, Selma High School can find a way to buy the team championship rings. Forty years ago, they didn’t receive them because the school couldn’t afford them. That’s definitely understandable.

The school had the team back earlier this year for a special ceremony with Selma High’s 1994 team, which also won a title.

It was a great gesture and one that meant a lot to the players, but a ring would last forever.

It might be a lot to ask, but that team remains a group current Saints can look up to.