Walk through the doors of the building where a bunch of youthful memories live.
I was eight years old the first time St. Paul Lutheran School invited seven other Lutheran schools to Janesville for an invitational tournament. Players and cheerleaders from the other teams were hosted by families from the church and school.
My folks agreed to host a couple of cheerleaders.
After the first round of games were done Friday night, all the visiting team kids assembled on the basketball court and we met our weekend guests. I'm pretty sure they were surprised when we escorted them for a walk half-way around the block to our home.
At the games, I looked up at the big boys on the court. They were so big. Would I ever be that size?
Those thoughts came to mind watching the boys on the court this past weekend. One kid stood out because he appeared to be a lot shorter than everybody else; I checked the program and he was 5'6" in 8th grade.
Can't say I remember how tall I was in 8th grade, but I doubt I was that tall. Of course, I don't think kids in my middle school years were generally the size they are now.
Before the Flames game, cheerleaders led the crowd through the school's Fight Song, "We are the Flames."
I think I may have reached 6th or 7th grade when hearing our Principal, Mr. Schwanke, work out the words to the first fight song for the recently named Flames (we had been the Ponies).
It was changed some time later to "We are the Flames," and it comes as a surprise to me that so many years later I still knew it.
St. Paul won the game I watched Saturday morning, but fell to Roselle (I think they've always been pretty good) Saturday night.
Portage, Lombard, and Mt. Prospect were familiar guests in Janesville as well. (I haven't checked, but I'm pretty sure those four schools have been a part of every one of the 44 Janesville Lutheran Invitational Tournaments.)
Quite a few individuals at St. Paul's continue as pillars of the 3 day weekend of Faith, fellowship, and hoops.
It's obviously a labor of love and their prayers, sweat, and tears are on great display each year.
During the game, I sat next to another St. Paul alumnus and we talked about our JLIT experience and the occasions when we played in tournaments in Portage and Lombard.
Funny, we didn't talk about the games so much. We talked about the people we stayed with and memories from the first times we were really away from home and not with relatives.
The games are fun and it's a good idea to keep score. But, my guess is all the young men and women who took part in the 44th edition of the JLIT come 44 years from now may remember the last weekend in February, 2016 and not care a whit whether their team won or lost.