This is the second in a series of articles on the 2017 Class of the Clinton County County Sports Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony and dinner will be held 5:30 p.m. June 15 at the Expo Center on the Clinton County Fairgrounds. The Wilmington News Journal Clinton County Scholar-Athlete Award also will be presented June 15. Reservations for the event must be made by 5 p.m. Friday. Cost is $20. Call the News Journal office at 382-2574 to make reservations. NEXT UP: Roger Roberts.
Like many parents, Bruce Boggs became involved with youth sports as his children started participating.
It was a “selfish” desire, though, by the normally selfless Boggs that led him to restarting and heading up the Sabina youth basketball program for nearly 30 years.
As Matt Boggs, son of Bruce and Nancy Boggs, was old enough to begin playing youth basketball, Sabina didn’t have a youth program. So young Boggs played his games at the YMCA in Wilmington.
“I was working for Cincinnati Milacron, working second shift,” Boggs said. “So I would get home at 3 o’clock in the morning. Matt was playing at the Y in Wilmington and games were Saturday morning at 8. That was killing me. Out of selfishness, I didn’t want to go to the Y at 8 o’clock in the morning.”
So Boggs thought back to his days of playing basketball locally.
“Remembering my youth and playing basketball on Saturday mornings in Sabina and the fun that we all had,” Boggs said of the program under the direction of Roger Barber and Larry Curless.
Boggs wondered “What ever happened to the youth league in Sabina?” he recalled. “I don’t know if they didn’t have enough kids to participate, not sure when it wasn’t happening. I know there was nothing going and nothing had been going on for quite a while.”
As fate would have it, the youth basketball gods were smiling on Boggs and the Sabina community.
“I was extremely fortunate Jim Luck was principal (at Sabina) because he and Tom Sheeley (Sabina seventh and eighth grade basketball coach) were 100 percent behind getting the boys and girls out there playing (basketball),” said Boggs. “They would show up at practices and help out. There was a lot of guidance from those guys those first few years.”
Boggs also noted the help of Larry Runyon, the custodian at Sabina, as well as future EC administrators who helped after the program transitioned to the East Clinton Middle School gym — Terry Fouch, Eric Magee, Bill Bean, Terri Barton, Linda Compton, Robbin Luck, Jennie Pierson, Jason Jones.
Now, Boggs has decided to move out of the director’s role and will assist as the program transitions again, this time to the Sabina Church of Christ.
“I just thought it was time to hang it up and get fresh eyes on it, hands on it to see if it can be better,” Boggs said. “The Church of Christ approached me and said ‘How can we help?’ East Clinton is just so crowded with practice times (for high school teams) and gym times.
“I am willing to mentor them a couple, three years if that’s what they want to get them off and running.”
Boggs philosophy over the years has been simple when it comes to dealing with the kids.
“The more important thing at this level isn’t to win, it’s to make everybody better,” he said. “If you have good players on every team, they’re going to sharpen each other. Playing time and confidence are important things.”
While the players have changed over the years as have the locations of the games, one aspect of Boggs’ life as it relates to the Sabina youth basketball program has remained constant.
“It’s not me, it’s definitely my family,” he said. “The family comes in and does the hard work so I can have fun. They carry the heavy load. Every one of my brothers and sisters have worked in the league. My parents worked the gate. Dad sings the National Anthem every Saturday. My brothers-in-law have coached and had kids play in the league. My wife’s there every Saturday. Our kids have coached, refereed and worked the league through the years. Nieces and nephews have worked. Grand kids are now old enough that a couple of them have been refereeing for years now. It’s come full circle with former players whose kids are now playing and the players are now coaching.
“Without them and the other people who weren’t actually family, but became family … it was definitely a team effort. I’ve been blessed with a good family, good parents, good players. Everything just went hand in hand and fell into place.”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports