“Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds,”– James 1:2-4. In a culture where losing is considered unacceptable this missive from the Book of St. James is very unsettling. We’ve been attending a lot of basketball games lately and more often than not our son’s team has been on the losing end. Over the four seasons that Devin has been a member of the Fredonia State Varsity his team has faced trial after trial. Eighteen months ago one of their key players dropped dead while getting ready for school one day. Last year the rest of the team dedicated their season and their spare time to collecting for a memorial to “Buck” as he was affectionately called. Mark Buckenmeyer came into our lives about two years ago. He was an easy going young man who was very soft spoken. He transferred to Fredonia following a successful career at Genesee Community College. He was a young man who wanted to be a math teacher.
At last night’s game a member of the home crowd at Thiel College pulled me aside and asked why the young men wore number “44” on their warmups in addition to their own number. I told him about Mark’s tragic death and how this was one of the ways his teammates had elected to honor his memory. Frequently I forget that these games aren’t about me or even about Devin. They’re a celebration of basketball and life. I’m sure the Buckenmeyers would love to have Mark back for one more game win or lose.
This weekend the young men will travel to Plattsburgh State and Potsdam State. They will be difficult opponents. The young men will face trials of many kinds on the hardwood. We’ll be there to enjoy their play and their lives and to remember Buck.