Marianne's Meanderings: Laughs, seriousness abound at Pilger charity basketball game

Marianne Gillespie
IVC student Isaac Cain takes a fast break to the hoop at the third annual Josh Pilger Scholarship basketball game as the faculty members watch him run down the court.

Residents celebrated the spirit of the Grey Ghost Wednesday night at Illinois Valley Central High School.

In conjunction with the Everyday Leadership Class’ annual charity basketball game to raise funds for the Josh Pilger Scholarship, the class also orchestrated a new haunting of sorts.

The class arranged for the 9-foot-4-inch wooden Grey Ghost to be moved from the city median on Walnut Street to the high school.

While the Ghost carved by IVC alumnus Tim Gill is not in its final location on the property due to the frozen ground, there also will be a plaque added next to him, teacher Matt Chapman said.

Mayor Doug Crew told the crowd in the gymnasium that the students did an “outstanding job” and that the work was done quickly between the moving and also making some repairs to the Grey Ghost.

Superintendent Chad Allison said the Grey Ghost did not want to stay veiled until the evening. Apparently even the Ghost can’t find his favorite spot because of our weather.

Instead, the students offered a welcoming of the Grey Ghost to permanently haunt their school.

With the wind and cold temperatures, residents stayed inside instead of gathering around the new fixture.

Teacher Laura Campagna, known for making cakes to raise funds for her Relay For Life team with fellow teachers, made a cake in honor of the Grey Ghost’s new location.

The light-hearted event still had its moments of seriousness as friends, family and classmates remembered Pilger’s life.

Pilger was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of his senior year at IVC. While he fought and had an extended stay in the hospital, he died shortly before the end of 2011.

That prompted the Everyday Leadership Class to start the annual event to raise funds for a scholarship in Pilger’s name.

His dear friend Jimmy Bridgeman spoke about his life before he sang the song he penned in Pilger’s honor, “My Friend (Josh’s Song)." Those in attendance joined in singing with him.

Bridgeman told the group that Pilger loved people and was an example of how to treat others.

“Let his life live out as we treat people,” Bridgeman said.

With that said, it was time to continue raising funds as announcer Mark Kosinski said the teams could warm up for a few minutes.

It would be a battle of the faculty vs. the students, with the freshmen and sophomores beginning the friendly competition, and the juniors and seniors taking over as the quarters continued later.

The faculty did not have as many subs as the students, but they held their own on the court.

Of course, it could have had something to do with bribes that they were allowed to give the referees, Paul and Steve Mercer.

At one point, the bribe total was up to $9 for the teachers and $6 plus a candy wrapper for the refs.

You’ve probably never seen a basketball game quite like this one.

As they ran the court, Kosinski kept the laughs coming.

“In case you didn’t realize it, the faculty went with the younger teachers this year,” he said of the team. The “older” teachers stayed near the announcement area, he said.

The crowd had to keep their eyes pealed for moments of hilarity on the court, or they might miss it.

Kosinski asked if the faculty needed an AED as they ran up and down the court.

Student Hayden Tisch called for a steroid check.

IVC grappler Derek Meeks took down teacher David Beck on the court with some wrestling moves as the game continued around them.

Chapman held up folded money in his hand as he ran down the court, hoping for a little consideration from the refs, especially considering he had a bad day and caught a cold.

Laughter could be heard on the court as well.

As Rusty Richards prepared to make a free throw, senior Ben Rashid ran around him on the court and yelled, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait.

With the ball in his hand, Richards leaned back and laughed as Rashid ran behind him and got to the spot he wanted to be on the court.

While it was for fun, the mainly male faculty team was mostly business as they worked the court.

A few spills on both sides and rolling over on the court occurred, but everyone got back up.

Ultimately, everyone was a winner as Hannah Scherer announced the total of the evening — around $2,000.

That money not only will assist an IVC senior go to college, but keeps the memory alive of a special young man.