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The Legend of CI

The Legend of CI

1,267 games. A State Record 1,066 wins. Twenty-four District IV Championships. Thirty League Titles. Thirty-eight 20-win seasons. His teams have won more than 85% of their games. And now Coach Ron Insinger has a State Championship to add to his already impressive resume. Where do I begin?

Congratulations to my old friend for finally pulling it off. This was an unbelievable run. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am. CI’s career will never be duplicated. Not only the number of wins but the longevity. Forty-seven years at the helm. That’s insane. Countless hours of molding boys into men, and now there will be a STATE BANNER that will proudly hang in the gym that bears his name. Goosebumps.

“He means so much to all of us,” Senior Guard Dom Jennings explained. “He is not only our coach, but CI helps us in so many ways. We were so glad we finally got him that State Championship. He deserved it. The guy is a legend. He is the best.”

“After all of these years of coaching- it is so crazy to think that this is his first,” Senior Idris Ali added. “We are so happy for him and glad to know that we were the team to get it done.”

I have known Ron Insinger and his family for a very long time. There are no words to describe what he means to me or what he just accomplished. I have written several articles on Coach over the past several years. One of my favorites was featured in the Webb Weekly a few months back. I thought it would be great if we could rerun it.
A Summertime Staple

My ten-year-old son and I just had a great conversation. He was telling me all about his first few days of camp. Jensen was having a blast, and he explained everything that took place. We talked free throws, hotshot competitions, full-court dribbling, and no-look passes for an hour and a half.

Jensen went on and on about how much fun he and his young friends were having. He even dropped a few names of ballers who went to different schools in the region. He was so excited. Jensen loved all of his coaches who were teaching him the basic fundamentals, but he didn’t understand how the Camp Director already knew who he was. The poor kid had absolutely no idea who this guy was.

I started by sharing a few stories about how Coach and I’s relationship originated. I actually attended the very same basketball camp when I was a few years older. True story. Jensen looked puzzled and didn’t seem to comprehend. I then showed him a camp evaluation and a few pictures that were in an old scrapbook downstairs. Artifacts. My mom was a librarian.

Our dialogue continued, and Jensen was now intrigued. I explained how I played against Coach and his teams back in high school. His talented Lancers nipped the Millionaires at Lycoming College my senior year. It was nuts. I even became a counselor for two summers while in college. He taught me a great deal about hoops and even helped get me into coaching too. Jensen couldn’t fathom that this was the same guy who sold him a slice of pizza a few hours earlier. WAIT. I’M CONFUSED. YOU GUYS ARE FRIENDS?

The tales continued, and I mentioned how Coach and I faced off on the hardwood on many occasions. I admitted that his teams were always the heavy favorites. They usually came out on top, and I can take full credit for 13 of his all-time victories. I only got him once, and I still have the newspaper clipping in a frame. I then told him how I was fortunate enough to call a few of his many District Championships on the radio and how I always got nervous when he was a guest on our weekly radio show. Jensen was quite impressed, and his jaw immediately dropped when I told him a few of his camp director’s unprecedented accolades.

Coach Insinger is already in the West Branch and Pennsylvania Sports Halls of Fame. We sometimes forget that he has led Loyalsock to 24 district IV crowns, 30 league titles, and an incredible 38 20 win seasons during his lengthy campaign. I apologize if I miscounted. Fuzzy math. This isn’t fake.

My man isn’t slowing down either. CI still has that bounce and a great smile. You should have seen him slapping high fives to every youngster as they walked through the doors. It was so good to see Coach when I stopped with Jensen the very next morning. We chatted it up immediately, just like old times.

“We’ve been at it for 40 plus summers now,” CI remembered. “I can still picture that first CI Basketball Camp. Man. It was a long time ago. The format has changed quite a bit, but I still get excited to work with these kids. It’s also a great experience for my current players.”

Youngsters were everywhere, and everyone was having a ball. Jensen didn’t say goodbye, and he immediately ran to one of the racks. I was all alone and reached out to a few of the camp counselors who were standing nearby. I introduced myself, but none of them knew who I was. I’m officially out of the loop. They didn’t remember me as a player or a coach, and not many high schoolers read the Webb Weekly. But they all knew who Jensen was.

I then looked around and recognized several other faces. I couldn’t believe it, but the Spencers weren’t the only ones with ties to CI’s Basketball Camp. I counted five other father-son combos that were also in attendance. Two generations of campers. This is amazing. OMG DAD. WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE?

Upon leaving, I tried to explain to CI how different it was being here as a parent and not as a coach or broadcaster.

“Seeing you and Jensen together is very rewarding,” Insinger continued. “On the very first day, I usually ask the kids if any of their parents or siblings ever came to this camp. You wouldn’t believe the number of hands that go up. Talk about being humbled. I seriously never thought I would be doing this for so long, but the thousands of faces over those 43 years is what it is all about. I am very proud of the successes and longevity of this camp.”

Much love, Coach. Congratulations to you and your team on winning the 2021 AAA State Crown. Enjoy all of the accolades. You deserve them all. Cheers.

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