Giving back: 1978 Lady Highlanders donate to community center program

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

If you ask the women on the 1978 Lady Highlanders conference championship team, donating to the Eureka Springs Community Center Foundation is a slam dunk.

The team recently came together to donate to the community center’s after school program. Kathy Remenar, who works with the community center foundation, said she approached the team after finding the 1978 conference championship placard at the community center, located where the old high school once was.

“I thought, ‘Maybe we can generate some money for the community center with the sign,’ ” Remenar said. “That’s when I contacted the team. Everyone on the team was a student of mine, so I had the class of ’78.”

Each of her former students gave what they could so the community center can waive the after-school program fee for students in need, Remenar said.

“They all contributed to the scholarship, and we rededicated the sign,” Remenar said. “They’re great. They were great then, and they’re great now.”

The placard will be permanently housed in the Eureka Springs High School gymnasium, Remenar added. Joi Ball, Janice McClung Boyes, Ramona Capps and Karen Bromstad Johnson remembered when their team won the championship in 1978, saying they didn’t start out all that great.

“It was lots of hard work, lots of drills, lots of sweat,” McClung Boyes said.

“Conditioning was a big deal, because when we were a first-year team, we were not good,” Capps said. “Our first season, we were 2-19.”

“We didn’t know basketball,” Bromstad Johnson said. “What was basketball?’

“We got stomped by everybody, and then we got our skills and our conditioning to the point that by the time we were seniors, we were 23-3,” Capps said. “We won the district tournament and got to go to state.”

The main reason the team did so well, Ball said, was their coach, LB Wilson.

“He was amazing. He was an awesome man,” Ball said.

“Yes, he was,” Capps agreed. “He dedicated a lot to us.”

“He believed in us,” McClung Boyes said.

The team’s hard work wasn’t just done in the gymnasium, Capps said.

“We washed cars at what is now Sparky’s to buy warm-ups so that we wouldn’t be freezing in those cold gymnasiums,” Capps said.

“I remember our uniforms were polyester with a zip in the back,” McClung Boyes said.

“They were so silly,” Capps said.

Being on a team together, Bromstad Johnson said, brought everyone together. She said the players were close and remain friends to this day.

“These are amazing women, and I’m glad they’re my friends,” Ball said. “They’re very good people.”

“It’s a bond you never forget,” Capps said. “I love these girls, and we appreciate the community center so much for rededicating this placard in the new gymnasium.”

If the team wants to visit their old gym, Remenar said, it won’t be long before they can. She said the community center foundation is working hard to remediate mold in the building to open it up for various activities, especially the after-school program. That program was originally meant to be held in the gymnasium, Remenar said, before the foundation discovered the mold. The program was temporarily moved to Eureka Springs Elementary School, Remenar said.

“When we contacted the school, they said, ‘Absolutely, we need this program,’ ” Remenar said. “That’s worked really well for us and for them and the parents.”

The eventual goal, she said, is to move the program to the community center. That’s why it’s so important for people like the 1978 Lady Highlanders to donate to the program, she said.

“We thank them for their contributing to the community center. That’s their gym,” Remenar said. “Even if they’re not in the community anymore, their friends and relatives are, and they can take a group of kids and go shoot baskets there. Hopefully very soon there will be places for them to meet and have gatherings.”

With the money going toward the scholarship fund, Remenar said, more students can attend the after-school program, and the community center foundation can use its funds to get the site up and running.

“We have to charge fees, because we’re paying the teachers. This will help with that,” Remenar said. “There are 50 kids there on a daily basis and up to 90 children sometimes, so it’s a really positive thing. It’s obviously a need the community had. They identified it during the early meetings as something we really need, and it’s going great.”

The community center foundation isn’t ready to open the site up yet, Remenar said, but that’s becoming more of a reality with every donation that comes in.

“We’re going to do it as we’ve got it ready, and we’ll grow as we can grow,” Remenar said. “If anybody has a million dollars they’d like to drop down on us, we’d love to have it.”

She continued, “We are alive and well and working to get everything open for the community the way they wanted and have the community center be an integral part of Eureka Springs.”

For more information or to donate to the community center foundation, visit http://www.eurekaspringscommunitycenter.org/.

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