What was the point in driving two and a half hours on a school night to play a team that was number one in the state? That is exactly what I was thinking. Oh and I forgot to mention it was in the middle of winter. But we did it anyway. It was my sophomore year of high school and during my second year of high school basketball. It was just the junior varsity and the varsity playing that night, but all the coaches came to watch.
Like I said before, why did we have to go all the way there on a school night? I had big confidence in my program, but I was pretty sure I knew how the outcome would turn out to be. And I was right; we lost. Yes, both of our teams.
Being the youngest that traveled that night, we were programmed to sit in the front of the bus; that’s just how it always went. My best friend and I were the first seat behind the coaches. So we had a clear view of what was about to happen. A little over halfway home, something terrible started to happen. I stayed still like if I made noise it would get worse. We couldn’t really decipher what was going on, but whatever it was, we know it wasn’t good.
The next thing we knew a coach yelling was, “Call 911! Pull over! We need an ambulance!” We pulled into a gas station when we were all told to evacuate the bus from the back and remain inside the gas station. The coach that had this terrible thing happening to him was the assistant freshman coach, my uncle’s best friend growing up, and the man that persuaded me most to come from a public school to this Catholic high school. We waited outside for a while, until we went inside the gas station. We had to go in though because it was a really cold night, rainy and snowy. If anyone would walk by they couldn’t tell if we had tears or raindrops on our cheeks, but we all knew there were a lot of both. We all got in a circle, held hands, and began to pray. The ambulance took him to the nearest hospital, where his family met him there. The rest of the bus ride was silenced. The only sounds you could hear were sobbing and the music playing in everyone’s tiny headphones, just so they couldn’t hear themselves think about what just happened.
We had no idea how he was the next day we came to school. But what we did know was that we would find out. The announcements prayed for him, not his family, so what did that lead us to believe? That he was fine, just recovering. He was a softball coach too, he actually liked coaching softball better, but I was always too stubborn to say I knew that because I didn’t play softball. So, the girl’s softball and basketball programs were asked to come to the Chapel. We all walked in nervously but in the back of our minds we thought he was okay or was going to be okay. Our head coach stood at the front of the chapel while we all took our seats. He delivered the news to us, while head freshman coach, (one of his best friends), stood by. “Coach Kubin passed away this morning at 6:45, there was nothing they could do. He had a brain aneurysm.” Everyone was silent and you could hear a cotton ball drop. We were told we could stay in the chapel for as long as we needed even if it ended up being all day.
I was still in shock, as were my two classmates/teammates, but we three decided to go to first period. It was when we sat down and looked at each other and started to cry, hard. So we left, back to the chapel we went. It took a couple of hours for everyone to start talking instead of crying. But when we could start talking, we all sat around and told stories about just him. It was nice. We laughed, cried, smiled, and all together. The school even had someone come in and talk to us and help “guide” us through it. She was a counselor of some sort; her granddaughter was a senior and played basketball. Her sons both attended my high school and went on to the NBA. One of them passed away suddenly in the middle of a game. So she knew what we were going through, she helped a lot.
I had never seen a line as long as the one was to get into the funeral home for the showing. When we finally did get inside, we could barley move because there were so many people in the funeral home. The actual funeral was a cold day, we were asked to stand outside and be the guards and make a line while the casket was carried through. We wore our school uniforms as a sign of respect. It was an honor and we were all happy to do it. Coach Kubin passed away on January 6, 2006. Every year, a group of us visit his grave.
The next weekend, so a day later, we had a home game also against a very good team, top ranked. The coaches decided not to cancel it, so we went on to play. It wasn’t going to matter if we lost that day, we played that day for him, and no matter what we knew he would be proud. Our whole program went to school earlier than usual. We didn’t know what for yet, but that’s just what we were told to do. The coaches all bought black wrist sweatbands and silver permanent markers. We could each do it our own way, but it some way or another, everyone’s had “Kube” with a cross on it. Even the coaches wore them. During the game most of the breaks would say, “Kube on three.” From then on before every game I had the honor of drawing a cross with “KUBE” on the board that all the coaches drew on before games and at halftimes. I continued it on until the last game of my senior year.
I coach at my Catholic high school now. I actually coach the same position he had when he was coaching. It is kind of sad being there, coaching, and watching the girls for the simple reason that they didn’t know him. The week of the anniversary of his death I stared at the memorial plaque of him in the gym. My team knew or heard about him, but it’s sad that the seniors, this year, will be the last one’s that were actually coached by him.
A few of my old teammates and I are trying to start an Alumni Game for girls. The boys program has one in honor of someone. Why can’t we? Hopefully that goes well enough to be able to make it a tradition, in honor of Coach Kubin.
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