March 24, 2013

Steve Solloway: Going through hoops to play a little ball

(Continued from page 1)

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Bill Simpson takes to the road for basketball. That’s the way it is and the way it’s been since 1976, when he organized the team that’s on the verge of 2,000 victories.

Photos by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

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It takes a commitment to play for Bill Simpson and his Class Acts basketball team, but the rewards are great, both in playing time on the court throughout the year and in the lifelong friendships forged away from the game.

Not so understanding were John Fitts' two former wives. He joined the team in 1981, just out of Cony High. He played off and on for decades, or until two hip replacements curtailed that part of his life. He sat in the bleachers Friday night. "Bill called and asked me to come. He's my friend.

"My wives said I loved basketball more than them."

Fitts didn't deny it.

Doug Roberts, star of the great Rumford teams from the mid-1970s, played for Simpson. So did Rumford's Andy Bedard some 20 years later. Bart Donovan, a Bangor High star and now the father of teenagers attending Deering High, still plays. So does Andrew Duncanson of Portland, who flew to Detroit this weekend for a tryout with a Pro Basketball League team. The list goes on and on.

Players from away, including Jay Brewer, an all-conference selection at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash., played for Class Acts. Later he got married in Ireland, where he now lives, and Class Acts was represented at his wedding. Simpson is the godfather of Brewer's daughter. Several Class Acts players were at the christening.

Texts from Simpson on everything from victories to the births of sons and daughters go out to a core group of 55 in the Class Acts family. Simpson, in fact, is 55. Injuries to both legs ended his playing career. He has no idea when or if he'll give up this part of his life.

"I'll probably manage this team from my grave. I'll set up a trust so the kids of everyone who played can play." I repeated that comment Friday night in the Mountain Valley bleachers.

Fitts didn't think his friend was kidding.

"You've got to understand Bill. He'd do that."

Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway

 

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