Meadville Tribune

November 3, 2012

BASKETBALL: Former Bulldogs star orchestrates alumni showdown

By Matthew Digiacomo
The Meadville Tribune

November 3, 2012 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE — The Meadville Bulldog basketball program has had its share of standout players.

The names resonate as soon as you hear them: Lloyd Sharrar, Chris Buchanan, Biff Kress, Paul, Michael and Donald Burnett, Jerry Ambooken ... Heck, the list is too long to print.

In the past, once one of these great players graduated, the area didn’t get to see them play much again. Thanks to Ambooken, that may is all going to change now and for the foreseeable future.

The 1994 Meadville graduate has taken it upon himself to organize a Bulldogs Basketball Alumni Game.

“The decision to put together an alumni game was relatively easy, as the idea came when I was speaking with (fellow former Bulldogs) Brook Bright and Ryan Waid,” said Ambooken.

“But, from a personal perspective, it provides an opportunity to stay close to the Meadville community, where I have so many fond memories. Growing up in Meadville and going through the basketball program was a positive experience that I still remember to this day.”

The game will also provide help to the MASH Basketball Boosters.

Each participant in the game is being asked to make a donation at their discretion. That money will be donated to the boosters. Factor in possible concession stand sales and even admission, it will be welcomed support for the boosters.

“More importantly,” said Ambooken, “I think it provides an opportunity for graduated players to meet the current Bulldogs team. It could provide an opportunity for current players (or even younger graduated players) to speak to the older generation and obtain advice, not only about basketball, but perhaps about business, next steps in life, or just general life lessons. It is also an opportunity to reconnect with teammates.”

Plans are well on their way, according to Ambooken.

Right now he is currently collecting names of interested participants. The date and time has already been released — Friday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. And to coincide with the game, MASH head coach Norm Price, who will also coach one of the alumni squads, is going to introduce the 2012-13 team at 7 p.m. as a “Meet the Bulldogs” night for the community.

There are some minor details to work out, like who will play on which team. And if the interest is high enough, just how many games there will be.

“I would love to have a couple if we get enough people,” said Ambooken.

Still, some of the names that have already replied should certainly peak the interest of fans.

“I have verbal commitments from Paul, Mike and Donald Burnett, Joey Gray, Mike Pero, Brook Bright, Mike Lucas, Casey Miller and John Walsh, to name a few. And some great player like Rich Seidel, Biff Kress and John Swick said they would come watch. But I am still trying to convince them to lace up the sneaks one more time.”

Any former player interested in participating in the game can reach Ambooken at (814) 425-4949 or by email at jambooken@yahoo.com. The deadline to contact Ambooken to commit to playing in the game is Nov. 12.

“But the sooner we get the information the better,” said Ambooken. “Then we can organize and plan accordingly.”