An unusual day in Utica! The sun is shining! Brightly! And it looks terrific reflecting off the blankets of snow covering the rooftops and ground!

Big night last evening! I saw my first high school varsity basketball game where my twin grandsons were playing. Exciting! Proud!

Matt and Mike are juniors at Notre Dame. Matt is the starting point guard and also one of the team’s leading scorers. Mike gets in on occasion and is doing his time on the bench in readiness for next year.

Big game! Notre Dame vs. New Hartford. At New Hartford. A deep rooted rivalry. Prior to last night’s game, both teams were tied for second place in their division. The whole world came to watch the game! Parking was impossible! A half hour before the game, ticket sales stopped. There was no more room in the gym.

Cold outside. Sweaty warm inside.

The first half was close. Notre Dame was down by 6 at half time. The second half was a disaster! Notre Dame lost by 20 plus points. Notre Dame lost for 2 reasons. They did not control the backboards and never got its offense going.

The offense problem was Matt’s problem. He was the point guard, the general for his team. It was not his night. The coach had him on the bench for at least half the game. And he scored no points.

Mike got in towards the end of the game. An opposing player was fast breaking towards the basket and Mike threw him a body block. Not an intentional or mean body block. Rather the right move at the right time under the circumstances. I was surprised that both of them were able to get up off the floor. Mike was called for a foul and to add salt to the wound, his opponent made both foul shots.

In spite of the defeat, I was one very proud grandfather watching the blood of my blood playing. Matt will continue leading his team this year. They will win many games. Matt will continue to be one the team’s high scorers and one the league’s high scorers. He will distinguish himself in the future as he has in the past. Mike will get to play more and will have his moments in the sun. Rare is a team that wins all its games. And sometimes a good kick in the ass helps! There is no question in my mind that when these two teams meet again in February at Notre Dame, the result will be different. Such is life!

I am getting on in my years. It had been a long time since I was at a high school varsity game in my home town. I saw many faces from the past. And these faces brought back memories! Some interesting, some thoughtful!

There was the Monsignor. Now old. Walks with a cane. Still distinguished in his bearing. And still the warm soul I remembered!

There was a time in the early 1960s when a woman came to see me. She worked in a rectory. She said the priest had made advances towards her. She was totally distraught. The situation had shaken  the foundations of her faith. What to do? I wrote the bishop. The Monsignor visited with me in response to that letter.

Nothing happened. The Catholic Church was in denial even back then.

Sitting in front of me was Joe, a basketball coach for many years at Notre Dame. A revered man! We spoke like long lost friends reunited. Joe is 3 years older than me. We had attended high school together, though he was a senior when I was a freshman.

The conversation got around to who of the old class mates did each of us see. The answer was none. Some were dead, some moved away and the rest…..well the paths never cross. Sad. But it is that time in our lives.

I saw the father of what was a young client from many years ago. The father is older than me. He had been a great basketball player in high school which lead to a scholarship and his playing basketball in college. He subsequently became a vice president with a major insurance company. As he used to tell me, he got an education because he could put a ball in a round hoop! That simple. The free ride was his because he was born with a talent.

His son was equally as talented on the basketball court. It is in the genes!

His son wanted to transfer from one high school to another. He was not getting appropriate playing time and his opportunity to shine and move on with a basketball scholarship would be lost. So a change to another high school was required.

There was a high school administrative rule at the time that a transferring athlete had to sit one year out before he could play. Obviously to discourage such transfers. There were exceptions to the rule.

The boy transferred. The league said he could not play for one year. So I was retained to represent the young athlete in a hearing whose purpose was to qualify him to play immediately. It was a tough fight! Administrators do not take these matters lightly. And rightfully so!

However my young client prevailed. The decision was that he could play immediately at his new school.

The sports page of the local newspaper had been following this case closely. The day after the decision it reported that the boy could play basketball and that Petrone played hardball! I was always proud of that comment and the result which lead up to it. Excuse my moment of self gratification, but it felt good seeing the father last night and remembering the incident!

Today will have its sad moments. I have to attend the wake of my departed lawyer friend Nick Priore.

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