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The First Family of Basketball

I first met head Loyalsock basketball coach Ron Insinger in the late seventies. South Side Head Coach Doug Houseknecht and his assistant Steve Manning were my sixth grade teachers. They asked my good friend Chris Sullivan and I to be ‘ball boys’ for the varsity and JV teams. It was a tough choice – stay at home and watch Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, or travel with the high school Mounties. It didn’t take long to make that decision. Thanks to Coaches Houseknecht and Manning, I got quite an education that season and had a great experience.

It was in these travels that I first met Coach Insinger – CI. I was used to seeing older fellows on the bench like Charlie Blackburn. When South crossed the river to play Sock, this young, vibrant man greeted me upon entering the gym. He was very friendly and energetic. I remember sitting behind the South bench, watching Sock go up and down the court. Run and gun. Lancer Lightening as it has come to be known, and CI embracing this style of play.

My thoughts as a sixth grader were “Wow, who wouldn’t want to play this style of basketball?” Most coaches at the time ran at a much slower pace.

As fate would have it, I would play, coach and have a lifelong friendship with CI. I was always amazed how his family was such a huge part of Lancer basketball and how Lancer basketball was such a huge part of his family.

Well the Insingers have now been part of Lancer hoops for over 40 seasons. Forty years, one school – this is incredible to believe. As you know, CI recently set the all-time state win record with 802 games and counting. Think of all the practices, trips, the stress of coaching and managing your family. Late night meals and get up and do it again the next day, the next season for forty years. How do you do this?

I sat down with CI and got his thoughts on this and his Lancer longevity.

“I have a great wife, I never could have done this without her love, support and help,” CI said.

Carol is the first lady of basketball. She has kept the book and been at the scorer’s table since day one. Her friendly face and stylish dress adds a calming factor to a high-energy sport. As official scorer for home games, she knows how to wear the striped official shirt, and she even looks good in it. I think CI and Carol have the Fountain of Youth behind their house.

“Carol has always taken care of the family and things at home. Her support has allowed my focus to be on basketball.” This support at home while at the gym has allowed the Insingers to share the great success achieved on the court.

The greatest blessings Carol gave CI are their daughters Laurie and Lisa. At an early age it was obvious the girls would be following in their parents’ footsteps, by being a part of Lancer basketball. They were always at the gym, dressed as little cheerleaders sometimes, and always at CI’s side. They grew the family support group for both Carol and Ron. “I am so blessed to have daughters that not only take an interest, but help with whatever is needed.”

While in school, Laurie was a cheerleader. It was during this time she met her future husband Ron Emery. Ronnie was, of course, a Lancer ballplayer.

Lisa was heading up the Lancer Lunatics while in school. She made sure her Dad had plenty of support from the student body. “Lisa never missed a game and would often have coaching advice for me afterward. The girls always helped me keep things in perspective. They made coaching and being a father very easy.” They also helped him keep his humility. After a big win over Scottland, a perennial power at the time, one of the girls, who I will not name, drove the car through the garage door right into CI’s Viper he had just acquired. “I was just glad no one was injured.” Yeah, but boy does that dampen the victory.

The girls have grown into fine young ladies, and they definitely get their good looks from Mom, sorry CI. Their support is a constant. Both can often be seen at the scorer’s table for middle school games. They help wherever they are needed.

Ronnie, Laurie’s husband, has continued in the family business as a coach. Twelve seasons at the ninth grade and middle school levels. I have had the bench with him and he is a great coach and even better person.

Lisa married Marc Walter. He is as nice of a man as you could ever meet and can often be found working and helping at a variety of Lancer events. When Carol wasn’t feeling well last year, Marc stepped up to the scorer’s table and took care of things in her absence. “The help and love I get from Ronnie, Marc and the girls – I am just very blessed. I am so proud of them and their families.”

Families you say. That’s the greatest blessing they have given CI and Carol – grandkids!

Ronnie and Laurie have Little Ronnie, who can often be seen on the sidelines of football and basketball events with his Grandfather. CI doesn’t spoil him. I think he has every John Deere tractor every manufactured. The sight of CI and Little Ronnie together brings a smile to my face. Then there is Kayla, CI and Carol’s beautiful granddaughter – cute as a button. Boy, will she wrap CI around her little finger when she gets older. When I see CI hold her and smile, it takes me back to when Lisa and Laurie were young and he had the same proud and joyful look. There is no doubt she will follow in her Mom’s footsteps and become a Lancer cheerleader.

Marc and Lisa have blessed the Insinger household with Grant. He is high energy and Little Ronnie’s partner in crime. He is a fine young lad that also loves John Deere and palling around with his grandfather. I like watching CI try to run Grant down.

“I love having them in the gym, they just bring smiles to everyone’s faces. Carol and I are very fortunate.”

Carol is a loving and patient grandmother, especially when CI gets the kids all riled up.

CI and I also discussed his parents who have both left us. “Mom was my greatest fan. She loved coming to games. My father taught me if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all. Be positive.”

It is obvious he listened, CI is one of the most positive folks I know and always very good with people.

The Insinger family has had a great effect on so many people’s lives over the years. This could never be measured by wins and losses. It can, however, be measured by the love and support they receive in return. Judging by this – CI and his family will be around for another forty years. Thanks for all you have done and congratulations for doing it as a family. God bless you all.

Jim Webb

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