Alumni event to open Mariners’ hoops season

Post-Christmas and pre-New Year’s, a “Meet the Mariners” event hosted by the Homer High basketball teams gives alumni a chance to celebrate their days in letterman jackets — and the kids who wear the Mariner uniform today. Starting in the high school gym at 5 p.m. on Dec. 26, the season-opening event promises food, basketball, and fun for all.

The night kicks off with an alumni basketball game in honor of former Homer coaches Rob Gribble and Alice Witte.

“Their time, efforts and positive encouragement were a model for us all. May all Homer athletes continue to enjoy the sports they choose, and as Ron and Alice would say, always ‘hustle up’ and ‘play like crazy!’” wrote Wendy Todd, who is helping to organize the event, in an email.

According to girls coach Chad Felice, 11 women and 12 men are signed up to play in the alumni game, and others are encourage to participate. 

“The more, the merrier,” he said. The game will be a blue-white scrimmage, with women and men alternating playing each quarter. Alumni interested in playing should contact Wendy Todd at 399-4922.

An alumnae cheer squad will keep the energy high throughout the game, with each cheerleader in a T-shirt emblazoned with her graduating year. Jen Cabana, who organized the squad, says there are more than 10 women on the squad, and they’ve been practicing their moves.

At halftime, players from Paul Banks and West Homer elementary schools and Homer Middle School will show off their dribbling and passing skills on the court. After the game, coaches will introduce members of the high school teams and cheer squad, whose headshots will be published in a program.

Then the current athletes will play their own blue-white scrimmage.

Attendees don’t have to worry about getting hungry courtside. A taco bar will offer all-you-can-eat for $5, and the event will feature both live and silent auctions of desserts made by student athletes.

Basketball season starts today for the Mariners, with the girls heading to Service and the boys to Soldotna. The girls team saw a growth spurt this year, with 28 players on the roster — up from 18 last year. They only lost two seniors in June, so it’s an experienced team — although Felice said some JV players will be moving up to varsity along with a few incoming freshmen.

“We’re ready to go. The girls have been putting in a lot of time in the off season,” said Felice. “It’s good to see the dedication. Really I’m just really proud of them for putting all the work in.”

The boys team faces a bit more of a challenge: ten players graduated last year, leaving one returning senior and one returning junior.

“They’re athletic, but they’re young. There’ll be a learning curve, but they’ll be alright,” said Felice.

For now, community members can show their support for the teams by coming out on Dec. 26, Todd said:

“Get out your old letterman jackets and join in the festivities.”

Annie Rosenthal can be reached at annie.rosenthal@homernews.com.

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