Local scoretable workers are ‘keepers’ for long haul

Local scoretable workers are ‘keepers’ for long haul
Local scoretable workers are ‘keepers’ for long haul
Who’s keeping score?
It’s a question asked many times rhetorically.
Yet, at high school basketball games in Obion County, such an inquiry produces answers that are constants to each of the three local institutions’ hoops programs.
For starters, there’s Bobby Whitby at Union City. While coaches have come and gone on the bench for both Union City teams, Whitby has been at the scorer’s table since 1969 and sat courtside for each of UC’s five state championship runs.
Meanwhile, retired kindergarten teacher Linda Barclay has been at the scorer’s table for the SF boys’ program since the late 1980s. Her first foray into tallying points was during the 1987 season when her son, Dave, was in the eighth grade.
Additionally, former Obion Central softball coach Jeanna Walker has been either the scorebook person or clock keeper at numerous junctures throughout the past 25 years. This season, she served as the official scorekeeper for the District 13AA Tournament quarterfinal games that OC hosted and has primarily worked the clock.
Each of the trio certainly has their reasons for serving at the scorers table — all of which are upstanding.
“It’s something I enjoy doing,” said Whitby, who ironically kept score at what turned out to be his brother (Obion Central coaching legend) Jimmy’s final game as a head coach to date — a Lake County defeat to Union City in the Region 7A semifinals last season. “I used to say every year was going to be my last, but Larry (Speed) has been a lifesaver and we split games now with one of us doing the boys and the other doing the girls.
“We both get a break and it (keeping score) allows me to be around the game.”
Speed, the father-in-law to current Twister boys coach Shane Sisco and a long-time friend to Whitby, began his time as a scorekeeper about a decade ago. Others who serve at the Union City table presently are Jere Baldridge (clock/scoreboard) and Chuck Doss (public address announcer).
For Barclay’s part, her time at the scorer’s table has been a labor of love and a chance to stay close to the students she mentored during her teaching career.
“There is something special about thinking back to seeing them on the playground running around and then seeing them on the basketball court running around,” said Barclay, who has sat alongside her husband Ted — the SF public address announcer — son Dave (sound) and retiring clock keeper Jerry McCleary at most home games. “I had Trey Pearson in kindergarten, too, and I had a front row seat to watch that team win the state tournament.”
The semi-retired educator is also a second-generation scorers table participant as her father Paul Nanney kept the clock for the Red Devil basketball squads for over 20 years.
Barclay — who follows girls’ scorekeeper Amy (Brann) Cromika each evening — said it can be tough to remove the fan hat and stay a casual bystander.
“I don’t yell or clap when I’m the official scorekeeper,” Barclay said. “I believe it’s part of my job to try and remain neutral.
“Of course, that doesn’t mean I am not sometimes bouncing in my seat when our boys do something especially exciting.”
Also of note at SF games is that keeping the book runs in Cromika’s blood. Her mother Linda did so years ago when husband, David, was the Devilettes’ mentor.
At Obion Central, Walker presently sits alongside long-time educator Robert Osborne (in his first year with the OC scorebook), Donnie Walton (clock/public address announcer), Tony Jones (public address announcer) and Wade Carrington (public address anouncer/sound).
Being a good soldier at her alma mater and employer plays a big role in Walker’s labor.
“Anything that helps the school is a good cause to me,” said Walker, who one of a handful of utility players at Central’s table. “Whatever they need me for, I’ll do it.
“If they need an official scorekeeper for a tournament, I’ll do that. If they want me to run the clock, I can do that, too.”
The scorekeepers’ job, which was previously held at Obion Central by Van Glover and Doug Cunningham, certainly isn’t always an easy one. The official scorer is essentially an extension of the refereeing crew.
“You have to keep your concentration,” Whitby explained. “There was one team last year where the fans got on their own scorekeeper because this person had made a mistake.
“They got to cussing her and brought her to tears and the point where she said she would never keep score again.”
Walker agreed about the attention necessary to get the scorer’s job done correctly.
“Last year, I had a nephew (Travis Daniel) on the team and that was enjoyable, but I couldn’t cheer or root him on because I had to stay focused on the game,” Walker said. “I don’t want to make a mistake because if I do, the crowd or coaches will be on me quick.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s our crowd or the visitors. If I make a mistake, I will hear about it.”
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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