It's hard to think about the passing of Coach Fred Pickett and not get a little chocked up.
His overwhelming success as the boys basketball coach at Chester High School is the legacy he's left behind but his impact on our community goes so much further than wins and loses on the court.
Is there ever a time you've seen Fred without a smile on his face? In the midst of the most stressful, intense, competitive, and unfair situations on the court, Fred's gentlemanly demeanor was totally counter to other coaches you see perform in similar situations (including his assistant coaches).
They say players win games and coaches lose them and guys like me as spectators and fans took our shots at Fred from the stands for some of the decisions he made, but he just kept smiling and winning.
Even these past couple years as Fred became increasingly gaunt and distressed, he still came out to games to show support, greeted his friends and acquaintances warmly, and kept smiling.
I realized how much I missed Fred during the last Chester High football game I attended this year. It just wasn't the same not hearing his voice over the PA system from the press box. I had a few words with him as he sat in the car watching the football game besides the bleachers near the end zone. With all his buddies standing around the car yucking it up as usual, none of us imagined a time when Fred wouldn't be around to enjoy some good high school competition with us.
Along with all the State Championship banners, 1000 point scorers, retired jerseys, Harlem Globe Trotters and NBA player photos that hang on the walls of the 'Clip-Joint', I can't wait to see the tribute we bestow for the greatest of Fred Pickett.
Guys like him come along once in a lifetime.