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King: Sometimes a column is written when it's too late

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:02 p.m.

W hen I was just 6 years old, I would creep down into our basement and open up a box filled with old newspaper clippings. I discovered old editions of The Independent-Observer from the late 1970s, and the articles were fascinating.

Thanks to the information found in those vintage packages, it became obvious that Southmoreland had a special baseball program. They had a cast of players with college-level talent in Mark King, Scottie Logan and Tom Skovira. That's just naming a few. They also had a manager who I would read about and hear about from my father quite often.

That man would turn out to be my future 10th-grade history teacher and basketball coach, Harry Bowser.

It was no secret that Mark King was my father. When I had Harry Bowser for class I knew how much my father respected him. I had an admiration for Bowser because of how highly he was spoken about for years leading up to my personal high school career. I read about Bowser as a small child so I already had preconceived notions that I would get favoritism for being Mark King's son. I really didn't know Harry Bowser.

The background is important because it inspired me into taking my tall and extremely thin frame to the basketball court in 2005 in attempt to play for Bowser. In 2004, Bowser took over a program that in 2003 did not register a single win. That inaugural 2004 season, Bowser would go 3-21. The record doesn't reveal the progress made.

Southmoreland basketball was in shambles before Bowser arrived. That summer after his first season Bowser worked extremely hard getting his youthful team more experience in valuable undergrad tournaments.

I got a valuable opportunity to witness Harry Bowser's true greatness firsthand without him even knowing that I was almost documenting the entire season in my head as the 12th man on a 12-man team.

Watching Bowser interact and lead the group of young men that he did 10 years ago was remarkable. A staple of a great coach is that even old players of his who love him dearly did not want to be quoted for they know how Bowser does not enjoy the spotlight.

That's what I loved about him as a coach. Here is a man who turned around a program with very little community support with the exception of Tim Dunn and the parents committee, yet never boasted or carried that chip in the public eye.

I watched him motivate a group of teenagers by using the community as a tool. He would talk about giving the locals a reason to be excited in the dreary winter and as the team started to improve dramatically,

Bowser was right. Home games at SHS were electrifying during Bowser's era. He always worked hard at encouraging students who ordinarily would not come to games to show positive support. It was all about being classy when it came to Bowser.

Practices weren't walks in the parks by any stretch. They were demanding, but they had a purpose. Bowser didn't waste time and he never caved in. If he wants 100 layups in a row, you weren't putting in 99 consecutive, missing the 100th and calling it a day. You were doing the task the right way.

When I graduated I was too prideful to write this column while I had the opportunity. I had pulled a publicity stunt my senior year that Bowser wasn't the least bit fond of.

Even though I wasn't his player anymore he still had a word with me about it. Looking back, it was a remarkable gesture on his part, but at the time I was an arrogant punk who took it as a slight almost.

My punk behavior prevented me from publishing a column about a man that I could fully appreciate. The baseball players from the later 20th century knew Bowser as a great baseball coach.

Nobody really seemed to be able to add it all up and realize how truly special Bowser was to have been successful in multiple sports.

Only a select few were even aware that he coached baseball back in the day and was successful at it.

In 2013, Mr. Bowser had a health scare. I was literally filled with guilt for I knew that this column should have been written in 2006 when I had the chance. This is one perspective from the smallest of corners.

I encourage Southmoreland to have a night in Bowser's honor where actual contributing players from all decades can accurately portray what this man has meant to this school district and community. I'm just glad that this column has been finally submitted because sometimes a column is written too late.

Josh King is a contributing writer.

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