Childhood Friends

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Roger Sheppard reflects on his relationships with two friends he feels privileged to know.

I ran into a old school chum the other day. He and I attended grade school and high school together.

His name is Mike Allen. You may have seen him working out at the YMCA or elsewhere. He's one of the strongest people I have ever met!

Mike said "Hey Roger, put me on the news sometime before I die!"

I laughed and said I would.

Mike and I are about as opposite as any two people can be. He was always a terrific athlete. I was usually the one chosen last for basketball teams. He had a smooth, elegance. I was and still am often socially awkward.

I remember when I tried out for Pee Wee basketball when I was in grade school. I lived in the area where Washington Junior High School, on Plum Street, was where I had to go to play. It was not the school I would eventually attend for junior high, but it was my PeeWee basketball school. In addition to Mike, I met and was eventually placed on the same team with another stellar athlete and great guy, Jackie Thornton.

See, they tried to make the teams even by placing the worst athletes on the same team with the best athletes. So it made perfect sense that I should be on their team. And then every player had to play a little bit in each game. It should come as no surprise that the number on my shirt was 13.

All I know is that when it came my turn to play, I was both thrilled and mortified. I was glad that Mike and Jackie had already put our team well ahead most of the time, so that I couldn't single-handedly blow the lead.

After grade school, Mike and Jackie attended Washington and I attended VanDevender. When it came time for high school, we were back in the same school again. They had become even better athletes and I had long given up any hope of excelling in sports.

I always enjoy running into both of them. They remind of what I never was and I remember watching them play sports with a confidence and ease that I never knew. And the fact they consider me a friend, always brings me a sense of joy.

So Mike and Jackie, here's to you. Two long-time friends I have long admired and whom I've been privileged to know.


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