Thrill: Agony

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The phrase “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” was first spoken by Jim McKay on ABC’s The Wide World of Sports in 1961. Those words have become synonymous
with big athletic events throughout the ages. You know, somebody wins and somebody suffers a crushing defeat. This past weekend, those words took on even more significance. There was the “thrill”, but it was most certainly accompanied by the “agony”.

On Saturday evening, the District XI 6A Boys basketball championship was played. This is considered to be the top championship basketball game in the Lehigh Valley. Two teams, Northampton and Freedom, had upset higher-ranked teams and would battle for the championship. The fact that both were in the final was surprise enough, but the overriding interest was created by the fact that neither had won a District title for a combined 92 years.

Northampton last won in 1972 and Freedom did it in 1976. Both were coached by individuals who taught the game the right way, had paid their dues (one for 20 years and the other for eight years), and were true gentlemen of the game. It was easy to root for both; hard to accept that one would lose.

The contest was well-played. It was a two-point game with two minutes to go in the third. Freedom ended up winning 58-48. Coach Joe Stellato won his first District title in 20 years as the Freedom head coach. The “thrill of victory” was written all over the faces of the coaching staff and the players. Even Northampton knew they had played hard – somebody wins; somebody loses.

But that is not the “agony” I alluded to at the beginning. Upon arriving at the same gym on Friday night, I was told that the mother of 23-year Allen head coach, Doug Snyder, had passed away on Wednesday before they played in a semifinal game against Freedom. Doug’s father insisted he coach that night. He was told that is what his mother would have wanted. Doug did not tell the team until after the game; his team lost. All of us were both shocked and saddened by our friend’s loss.

Imagine the shock that upon arriving to do the 6A game, I was informed that Doug’s father, Dr. Richard Snyder, died the previous morning. Doug called his father Friday morning. Some said he was going to see if his dad wanted to go to Allen’s Saturday consolation game. No one answered the phone. Doug drove to the home and discovered his father had passed. Doug lost both parents in 48 hours.

Doug’s father and mother led valuable lives and left a legacy of public service. They also raised a son who is the epitome of a coach teaching all the right values to a team of inner city kids. The challenges are great, but Doug has always put character way ahead of wins and losses – yet he is one of the most successful coaches the Lehigh Valley has seen.

It is hard to get a sense of the “agony” Doug must be feeling now. My sympathy goes out to him and to his family. But this “agony” has absolutely nothing to do with “defeat”.

A really good son lost really, really good parents.


1. The Philadelphia Flyers are in second place! They have won six games in a row and are in a good position in the playoff race.

2. The NBA is into the 20th week and the 76ers are listed as #10 in the rankings.  They have a good record at 37-23, but struggle on the road and struggle to maintain a healthy lineup.

3. The Baylor Bears are the #1 college team right now as March Madness quickly approaches. If you are ready to fill them in as the National Champions, remember that they have never won a national championship.

4. Some bad news out of the Phillies spring training camp – Andrew McCutcheon will not be ready for opening day. He is still recovering from a torn ACL. He is important to their lineup. The expectations are he will be ready sometime in April.

5. Here are the TV games for this week:

Friday, March 6 @ 6:00pm
4A Boys – Bethlehem Catholic vs Archbishop Carroll
Central Catholic vs South Philadelphia
6A Girls –Nazareth vs Parkland
5A Boys – Southern Lehigh vs William Penn

Saturday, March 7 @ 1:00pm
4AG – Bethlehem Catholic vs Prep Charter;
2:30 PM 6AB – Northampton vs Lower Merion
4:00 PM  – Freedom vs Downingtown East

Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

Speak Your Mind