A Way Of Life - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1825658

A Way Of Life

The game of basketball in Sag Harbor has always been much more than just a game. It was a way of life. Having been born in Sag Harbor, I always tell people that while growing up you either played baseball or basketball. If you were lucky, you played both. What we did not realize is that the lessons we learned on the court would extend way beyond the court and mold us into the people we would become.

Being part of something like Sag Harbor basketball certainly gave me the tools to better myself and realize how important teamwork can be. From an early age, it was instilled in us that the sum is greater than all its parts. The bonds that were developed on and off the court are still evident today.

I had the pleasure of visiting Sag Harbor this past weekend and was lucky enough to run into two greats. I was driving downtown and told my brother to stop the car, because I saw Bobby Vacca walking down the street! Bobby Vacca played with my brother Phil Carney, and they both scored over 1,000 points, and both have their numbers retired: Their jerseys hang in the Pierson High School gymnasium.

I had not seen Bobby in over 45 years, but I recognized him immediately. This is just a testament to how much influence basketball can have on forming long-term bonds and relationships.

Another person who was always a positive influence on everyone was coach Bob Vishno. I ran into Coach at church on Sunday and made sure to say hello and thank him for coaching me all those years. Again, I had not seen Coach in over 43 years, but I immediately recognized his smiling face and was amazed that, at the tender age of 90, he remembered me and my family.

Basketball also brought Sag Harbor together as a community. The pride and support that the community showed was an example for every community to follow.

I can still hear Jimmy Alioto yelling, “The ball! The ball!” as we were on the court. There was no better show in town, as people from all walks of life poured into the gym to watch their Whalers compete. Workers from Bulova, Sag Harbor Industries, shop owners, firemen, policemen and tradesmen would all come and support the team.

In closing, the important lesson for the children of Sag Harbor is to be part of something bigger than yourself. Get involved in a sport and strive to be your best, and I can assure you that you will be rewarded with a lifetime of valuable lessons.

Thank you, Sag Harbor.

Joe Carney

Indianapolis, Indiana

Mr. Carney is a 1978 graduate of Pierson High School — Ed.