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Original Issue


Although only 12 players make the team, everyone who tries out
should be commended on his hard work and effort.
BRIAN COOMBE, Coatesville High '96
State College, Pa.


As I read Mark Bowden's The Unkindest Cut (Feb. 17), I felt as
if I were reading my autobiography. As a 16-year-old with
basketball aspirations, I know what the Coatesville High players
were going through. From the first day of open gym in September
to the final day in November, making the team at Robert E. Lee
High in Staunton, Va., was all I could think about. People need
to realize the intensity and desire high school players bring to
the game.

Since leaving Coatesville High in 1977, I have synthesized a
chemical that had never existed, written a chapter in a book on
pediatric nutrition and cochaired a national symposium on
psychoneuroimmunology. I have even had three poems printed in an
anthology of physicians' poetry published by UCLA. But I haven't
felt the elation described in the article since 1976, when my
name was on the list and I was lucky enough to represent the Red
Raiders. Thanks for helping me to remember that day.
ERIC K. BONSALL, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

When I was playing high school basketball in the suburbs of
Detroit in the early 1980s, not being cut was the most important
goal in my life. Fortunately for me, making the varsity was one
goal I did attain. Getting playing time, however, was one I did
STEVEN B. BENDER, Wynnewood, Pa.

The article brought back painful memories of being cut from my
high school baseball team in the 10th grade. Like many of the
Coatesville players who were cut, I felt I was good enough to
make the team, although I never did. I would like to remind kids
that Michael Jordan was cut the first time he went out for
ZACH SHOTLAND, State College, Pa.

As a former high school coach, I can sympathize with Jim
(Scoogy) Smith. The toughest decision coaches make is not
selecting a strategy during a game but choosing 12 players from
the 40 or 50 who try out. We wish we had enough uniforms for
everyone. We will continue to take abuse for cutting kids and
for losing games, but we keep coming back. We endure it for the
kids. They are the most important consideration.
ERIC WILSON, Bowling Green, Ky.

Your story made me realize how much I prefer reading about high
school athletics to reading about pro sports. High school teams
give us a glimpse of sport in its purest form, that of a child
who wants to play the game.
STEPHEN KENT, Williams Lake, B.C.

I have been coaching for 21 years, and I agree that selecting
the team is the hardest part of the job. Posting a list for all
to see is the worst way to announce who has made the team. I
give each young man a sealed letter. He may open it right away
or wait until he is somewhere private. The letter tells only
that player's fate, it does not list the whole team. This way,
the player is the first to know, and no one is staring at him to
see his reaction if he fails to make the team.
JIMMY COX, Raleigh, N.C.


Having a smart kid on each team would be a small step toward
changing society's obsession with athletes (Point After, Feb.
17). Young people are bombarded with the idea that sports
ability is far more important than intelligence. With a smart
kid in a position to win or lose a game, it would show that just
because you can't dunk a basketball or hit a home run doesn't
mean that you cannot receive the same glory that athletes do.

Leigh Montville's subtle tongue-in-cheek article about smart
kids is a prizewinner.

Thanks for perpetuating the myth that smart kids can't be
athletic. Your generalization further legitimizes the illogical
belief that brains and athletic ability cannot coexist in the
same body.
TAYLOR WEST, Altavista, Va.

B/W PHOTO: THE COATESVILLE RECORD Making the Raiders was just the right medicine for Bonsall (5).[Eric K. Bonsall in game]