Long eyes round ball reunion as Batson hospital fundraiser

Published 4:50 pm Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Calling all former high school basketball greats.

If you think that’s you, or if you know someone who fits the bill,it looks like there will be a chance to relive your glory days ifNatalie Long has anything to do with it.

Long, who played at Bogue Chitto until she graduated in 1995, istrying to find interested parties to put together a day of oldschool basketball, with proceeds going to Blair E. BatsonChildren’s Hospital.

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Long came up with the idea because Felder Sartin, the son of herhigh school friends Jessica and Gareth Sartin, was diagnosed withleukemia. Long decided she wanted to help, but not by donatingsomething small.

“I always wanted to do something for them,” she said. “But giving10 or 20 dollars wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I want to dosomething grandiose, something really cool.”

She had been mulling ideas for a while, but one day it struckher.

“I came across some old basketball pictures of Lincoln Countypeople playing against each other,” Long said. “It was reallycompetitive, but some of us are still friends. I felt like, ‘Ooo,we should have a basketball game and get together all the playersfrom the late 80s and early 90s.'”

So as she’s been thinking of ways to pull it off, Long decided toaim for some time in the late spring, and she said she’s combingfriends and family for ideas.

“The response has been really good, and I haven’t even put it onFacebook or e-mail,” she said.

And part of what Long is banking on is the nostalgia – not only ofthe people on the court, but of the spectators. She said she knowsthat there were some staunch rivalries from back in the day thatpeople would still pay to see, even with added years.

“Lincoln County had some awesome basketball players,” she said.”How fun would that be to get us back together to play, 15-20 yearslater, even if we do have a couple more pounds on us. Plus it’s achance to play again, it’s a nostalgic moment for a good cause, andit’ll bring people out because they want to see some of theserivals play against each other again.”

Long said her initial idea was to allow the four county schools tofield teams, but as she’s talked it over with people, there mayneed to be teams for other schools or even open teams.

“I thought county schools and Brookhaven because we always playedagainst Brookhaven, so I wanted to include them,” she said. “Butreally, we’re looking for interest, and trying to be open towhoever wants to.”

And that’s why she hasn’t put a date on it just yet. Long said shewants to know that there will be enough interest to make a positiveimpact for Blair E. Batson, as well as to make for an exciting dayof hoops.

“I don’t want this to be one of those things that only four or fivepeople show up for,” she said.

So Long is asking for interested parties to contact her, becausethe day will be a reality, she just needs a little direction.

“It could be two quarters a game since we’re out of shape, becausewe don’t want any liabilities, we don’t want to kill anybody,” shesaid, laughing. “But we’re really just trying to get the word outthere and see if there’s a response.”

Anyone interested in the tournament is invited to call Long at769-218-7343.