Van-Far Alumni and Friends will be hosting basketball games at the Van-Far High School on Saturday, September 29.
Nearly 50 men and women alumni have committed to play. The doors will open at 4 p.m., with games starting at 4:30 p.m. The admission fee is $1, and concessions will be available. Fun contests for all ages will take place at half time. The group plans to recognize those who were a part of Van-Far in years past, including administrators, coaches, teachers, staff, players, cheerleaders, and band members.
The alumni group was formed 10 years ago, and is responsible for awarding numerous scholarships to graduating Van-Far seniors and alumni. It was their desire to plan an activity that would interest a wide range of graduates and the community. The date was selected to coincide with Van-Far Homecoming the same week. “It would be wonderful to see alumni attending the Homecoming football game on Friday night, as well as the basketball games on Saturday,” Brenda Owens stated. Other committee members planning the event include Jeannie George, Jim Deppe, and Brett Reading. “We are very appreciative that Brett was willing to spend so much time signing up players and being in charge of the games,” Owens added.
Fans will recognize players who graduated in the 1990s through 2018, including some state championship team members. Several family connections will make the games even more interesting. Alicia, Matt, and Mike Smith will all make appearances. Gatson sisters Kasey and Abilene plan to play as well. One men’s team features brothers Lucas and Travis Gibson. Alex and Dee Wheeler will play against each other. Davis brothers Maurice and Gary round out the family players.
Included on a list of the players of men are Tanner Schuckenbrock, Brian Sparks, Travis Gibson, Benny Burnett, Nick Barnes, Wyatt McDowell, Chad Reading, Austin Speagle, Matt Smith, Mike Smith, Freddie Thompson, Gilbert Hooker, Sharrod Connor, Justin Overton, Tanner Fennewald, Jimmy McCurdy, Cale Utterback, Johnny Clark, Josh Laird, Lucas Gibson, Lathyn McMorris, Alex Wheeler, Richie Schlueter, Dee Wheeler, Walter Salmon, Tyrell Greene, Ethan Gooch, Josh Hodde, Maurice Davis, Gary Davis, and Marcus Perkins.
The list of women players includes Alicia Smith, Shamene Holt, Kristen Grimmett, Jill Hoeff, Jessica Howald, Candace Lower, Hailey Hopke, Jessi James, Jayda Borgmeyer, Kasey Gatson, Abilene Gatson, Kambrie Hartsell, Sally Brookshier, Jenise Johnson, Lavonda Wilson, Corrie Gaston, Joni Barnett, and Natalie Gibson
One of the coaches, Randy Saladin, coached at Van-Far approximately 1966-75 and again from 1995-2003. He is now retired from Hermann High School and lives in Mt. Vernon, Ill.
Brett Reading and Pat Connaway also plan to coach the alumni teams. Wes Rowden may be available also.