With basketball season under way at Del Norte, I can’t help but remember how excited I was as the season approached in my freshman year as a Warrior in 1947.
Back in those days there were no freshman or JV teams. There were lightweights and heavyweights, or varsity. Eligibility to play lightweights was based on height, weight and age.
A certain amount of points were given for each of these and the total determined whether you were a lightweight or heavyweight. You could play heavyweight by choice if you were talented enough.
I knew I was going to qualify for the lightweights team, and I knew that two of my friends from Crescent Elk were also going to play at this level, John Fraser and Leon Morgan. While at Crescent Elk, playing for longtime coach Ed Fraser, we had played the lightweights and beat them.
Two of the starters from the Crescent Elk team, Arnie Lopez and Dennis Boyd, were too big and were going to have to play for the heavyweights.
The other Crescent Elk starter, Bunky Peterson was still only an eighth-grader. John, Leon and I looked forward to joining juniors and seniors like Gordon Miller, Roy Blake, Leonard Neilson, Howard Carter and Bob McNeely, and having a fun season. All of them had played the year before.
Gordon was a real leader, as senior class president and chief justice of the student court, and had a great personality. He was also a pretty good basketball player, entering his fourth season as a lightweight.
Leonard, Howard and Bob had been the core of the team the year before, so with their experience and our talent we looked forward to a great year.
We opened the season at home against the Hoopa Warriors and pulled off a great win — we were on a roll. We learned the next week how quickly things can change, as we lost several close games before we won again. Our great season turned out to be only three wins. It was still a fun experience.
John Fraser and I look back and talk about our first experience as Warriors. We can look back now and appreciate that winning is not everything, but it is more fun. John and I look back because he says his favorite coach was my dad, who coached the lightweights that year, and my favorite coach was his dad, Ed Fraser, who we played for at Crescent Elk.
Dick Trone writes on his reflections and the history of Del Norte High Warrior sports. Trone, who played football for the Warriors and graduated in 1951, had an illustrious career on the gridiron at Humboldt State University. Trone was football head coach at Del Norte High for a number of years before retiring.