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Mr. Muncy and CI

Mr. Muncy and CI

Smiles, handshakes, and the din of conversation filled the room at the Genetti Hotel as, for the first time in two years, the Lycoming County Brotherhood Alliance gathered for their 65th annual banquet. The yearly occasion provides the opportunity for the organization to celebrate and reflect upon individuals and groups who exemplify the lives and values of Brotherhood.

No formal mention was ever made from the podium, but those gathered shared the same opinion that after two years of COVID-related postponements, it was good to be back. Perhaps the most relieved was John Brink, who was notified in 2020 that he would be receiving the Ray Keyes Sports Award. Now, two years later, his time had finally arrived.

The reserved Brink, known as Mr. Muncy throughout the community’s sports circles, admitted he had thought about the award’s significance over the past two years.

“Even though I’ve known about the award for a while, I am a little bit overwhelmed by it. A lot of people have contacted me and offered their congratulations, and I am very humbled by it.

“I guess you could say it is a longevity award. It means the recognition that I have been involved in sports and the lives of young people for a long time. I’ve really enjoyed the associations and friendships I’ve gained over the years, and as long as I am able to stay healthy, I hope to keep on going.”

The United States Army veteran’s sports involvement has spanned five decades of coaching nearly one thousand Muncy athletes in various sports. He has coached Little League and both girls and boys basketball at the high school level. Inducted into the Muncy High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2015, his teams have always emphasized teamwork, sportsmanship, dedication, and responsibility. Numerous times he has been named Coach of the Year and is a two-time recipient of the District Four Thomas A. Kline Sportsmanship Award.

Awards have been numerous for the recipient of the 2021 Keyes Sports Award, Ron Insinger, who stands atop all Pennsylvania basketball coaches with 1,090 career victories. But even for the often-honored Insinger, the Brotherhood recognition was something very meaningful.

“The more I learned about the organization, the more I realized how prestigious it is. Several years ago, my good friend Bob McManigal was very instrumental in the selection process for this award. He would always talk to me about this meeting and its meaning to the community. Being goal-orientated like I am and hearing Bob’s glowing esteem for the Brotherhood organization, I often thought about those past recipients of this award, never thinking about winning it someday. But now here I am, and I am so very much honored.

“Lycoming County Brotherhood’s purpose is community harmony, and that certainly is a perfect description for what they are doing. Looking around this room, there are so many dedicated volunteers, and that is of the utmost importance in helping people in today’s societal climate. But sadly, there just isn’t enough of it to keep the world going. The schools are trying to encourage it, and volunteerism is the backbone of our community. As soon as we can get everyone to pitch in just a little bit, the world will be a better place.

“I am honored, blessed, and couldn’t be happier to be joining that impressive list of individuals that have received this award. When I was first informed about this award, I didn’t realize the magnitude of it, but I do now. I’m kind of pinching myself now that it has become real.”

Ironically, both Brink and Insinger are honored after each reached 48 years of coaching this past season.

For as well-known as Brink has been in Muncy, the legend of the man they call CI has spread throughout the state for what his Loyalsock Township basketball teams have been able to achieve under his watch. His teams have achieved 39 twenty-win seasons, 31 league titles, 25 district championships, and the crowning accomplishment of winning the PIAA AAA state tournament in 2021. His win total puts him into the top 25 winningest high school basketball coaches of all time and in the top dozen active high school coaches nationwide.

Their sporting exploits headline their accomplishments, but both men share the inner satisfaction of knowing how their behind-the-scenes endeavors have privately changed the lives of so many young people they have helped over the years. Coaching victories have been plentiful, but on the scorecard of life, Brink and Insinger can truly be called champions.