By ALVIN REINER
---- — WILLSBORO — Sports, especially local ones, have been dear to the hearts of Willsboro octogenarian siblings Ed Collins and Beverly Dickerson for seven decades.
Whether it is the chilled sidelines of a soccer game or the heat of a basketball competition, the duo can be seen cheering for the home team while applauding the efforts of all, analyzing the playmaking, scouting the opponent and keeping track of statistics.
During the chill of the fall, 88-year-old Ed generally can be seen in his pickup truck parked behind the goal, while Bev, four years younger, is usually close to the 50-yard line to catch the action on both sides.
There is a running commentary for anyone who is in earshot.
“It seems that the goalie should have kicked the ball the other way once in a while. He always kicks it on this side,” said Ed, pointing to the right.
PLAYED YEARS AGO
Ed supports the school in other ways as he annually shares his experiences in the U.S. Navy during World War II with the third-graders just before Veterans Day.
He was trained for amphibious landings at the Great Lakes Naval Station and then was shipped off on less-than-luxurious accommodations to New Guinea, then the Philippines and finally Okinawa.
“They didn’t tell you where you were going,” Collins said. “You learned where you were when they stuck another pin in the map.”
Two years ago, WCS bestowed a high-school diploma upon Ed, who left school early to work in the mines near Mineville.
“I only went to the third year of high school,” Collins said of his education. “I kick myself that I didn’t go back to school.
“I played basketball and one year of soccer in school and a lot of baseball. We won the league; I believe it was in ‘41. I went in the service in ‘44,” Ed reminisced.
Though his high-school sports involvement ended early, Ed continued by being involved with town baseball teams.
“I was only 15 when I played for the town team. I umpired and played when (Johnny) Podres was pitching. We even paid him to play for us against the E’town team in a game in Lewis. I knew his father real well. I caught for Podres a few times, and I also played third base.”
NO GIRLS SPORTS THEN
Bev was employed and helped manage Phil Lawrence’s store for many years and often worked nights, so, at times, it was harder for her to catch the games. Her husband, Mike, who was also an avid fan, would fill her in with all of the details.
“They didn’t have sports for girls in Willsboro when I went to school. That started in the ‘60s. We did have some scrimmages in basketball, though. I played on weekends for a town team in softball against E’town and Westport,” said Bev.
“I guess I like basketball the most, at least for now, as, mainly, I don’t freeze. Also you are up close and can see all of the kids and tell who they are,” she said.
As for yelling at the refs, “I’m sure I have,” chuckled Bev.
She is a fixture at the games, and, in some instances, before the competition commences, some refs come to the sidelines to shake hands and chat.
Both Ed and Bev follow all sports. Bev, who came to the basketball game wearing a Yankees jacket, is pleased that she can get Direct TV to tune in to college and professional teams, as well.
“I like it that I can go back and forth between games. I guess the Wizards took it to the Heat the other night,” she comments.
“But I enjoy the high-school games the most. It’s the cheapest entertainment there is.”
Willsboro School Superintendent Steve Broadwell said he appreciates Ed and Bev’s devotion to the school.
“Sports are full of traditions,” he said. “One of those traditions for Willsboro athletics is seeing Bev and Ed on our sidelines rooting for our athletes. They have been on our sidelines for many years.”
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