A longtime, local sports broadcaster who has covered prep football, both boys' and girls' high school basketball, the annual NABF College World Series in Toledo, and outdoor amateur boxing down on Toledo's waterfront, radio play-by-play man Rick Waldron has seen a little bit of everything.
Still, nothing could have prepared Waldron for the sheer mayhem at Lake's Schwamberger Field House one winter evening back in Feb '09.
That night was the first time Genoa basketball coach Tom Kontak's then-reigning Suburban Lakes League champion Comets squared off against Denny Meyer's then-upstart Lake Lady Flyers for the rights to the conference crown that year.
A standing room only, Schwamberger Field House was rockin' when the host
Lake Flyers and Genoa Comets met for a Suburban Lakes League girls
basketball championship, as evidenced by the Lake fan above and the Flyers'
faithful to the left. (Press file photos by John Pollock/www.pollock.smugmug.
com and Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.lfepics.com)
Lake had taken the earlier contest just weeks before by edging Genoa on the Comet’s own floor. So anticipated was that re-match that game tickets had to be put on sale in advance.
Hours before the showdown even began, rowdy students from both schools were cheering in the LHS parking lot, with only the glows from their grills, their fervor for what was about to take place, and the numbers of their best players — Simone Eli for Genoa and Kaysie Brittenham for the Flyers — spray-painted on their bare chests to keep them warm in a cold night.
And once inside ‘The Schwam’?
Let’s just say Waldron and company would find themselves plunked down deep in the heart of the Lake student section. The noise was so loud, the blur of blue and white, and maroon and gray so dizzying, they had to yell into their microphones just to be heard.
All of which was a good indication that, at least for that year and the next few years, SLL ladies' hoops was not queen, but rather king.
"I never thought I'd see it grow to the proportion of what we experienced at Lake that night," shares Waldron, a former Press sports editor.
"I mean, that night, just the unmitigated acceptance of this girls' matchup was awesome…It wasn't at all like, 'Well, these are the girls' or 'they're not the boys' team.' Young women have just raised the level of competition in sports. They've raised their whole skill set and along with it has come acceptance and respect. It definitely showed that night."