Carolina Military Academy was a college preparatory school in Maxton that occupied the campus of the then-closed Presbyterian Junior College. CMA opened in 1962 and closed in 1972. The creative writer of this tale is a 1964 CMA graduate who returned after college to English and history and coach basketball. Each May the CMA Alumni Association meets for a reunion at the Sands Resort of Myrtle Beach. — Frank Lea
It started innocently enough during a recent CMA reunion. On Saturday afternoon, a group of former cadets, mostly ex-jocks, were sitting in the hospitality room. As usual, they were drinking and reliving past athletic glories. With their judgment no doubt impaired by alcohol, they decided an intramural basketball game was in order.
One of the leaders of the reunion who was local quickly secured the use of a nearby school gym. His desire to remain anonymous now will become obvious as this saga unfolds. In such games, it is customary to have shirts vs skins. However, some of the ex-athletes have the abdominal profile of a woman in late term pregnancy. For this reason, one team stopped at an Eagles store enroute to the gym. They all bought the same do-rag to distinguish them from their opponents. The wives went along to cheer their husbands on and to serve as impromptu cheerleaders.
In probably the only wise decision made that afternoon, it was decided to play half-court basketball. The game was fast and furious for several minutes until two players abruptly and almost simultaneously vomited on the hardwood. There was a delay while towels were found to mop up the mess. It was a welcomed respite as the players were already wearing down.
By the middle of the second quarter, a portion of the players had gone into sit-down-on offense-and-defense mode. Two players lay on their backs in the in the 5-second lane, heaving mightily for each breath. With great effort, one of those chaps managed to crawl on his hands and knees to the sidelines to avoid being trampled. This was prudent on his part as one of the overweight ex-lineman was running aimlessly around the court, seemingly oblivious as to where he was or why he was there.
Meanwhile, things were no better in the bleachers. One wife was on her cell phone, trying frantically and loudly to locate her insurance agent to make sure her husband’s life insurance policy was paid up and in effect. Sensing impending widowhood, two wives were sobbing hysterically. Others had a dazed and incredulous look on their faces; while the rest had their eyes closed or covered, unable to watch the perdition being played out.
One of the spectators with some medical training realized the whole idea had been a poor one. He ordered a Myrtle Beach EMS vehicle to standby at the gym and told them to bring no less than six defibrillators. Despite all, the game was played for all four quarters. The players gave their all as evidenced by the final score- Skull and Crossbones Do-Rags 6, Too Tight T-Shirts 2.
At the insistence of their wives, several players went by the hospital for EKG’s before returning to the hotel. Later it was reported that all tests were good considering their ages and conditions. That night at the banquet the few members of the winning team still ambulatory were presented a trophy. Actually, the trophy was an empty Wild Turkey bottle spray painted white and navy, the school colors.
It is the general consensus that the basketball game will not become an annual tradition.
Frank Lea is a native of Gibson and now resides in Laurinburg.