restricted access 5. Contact
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55 Contact the torn sheet of scrap paper with assistant coach Lou Cicciari’s current telephone number scrawled across it in my nearly illegible hand sits for nearly a week at the far corner of my office desk. Between my completion of various mundane administrative tasks—returning e-mail queries and complaints from students and prospective students, drafting recommendation letters for colleagues up for university research awards, tinkering one last time with the upcoming spring 2007 course schedule— the torn leaf captures my eye, vies for my attention. I should pick up the phone already and call my old coach. I need to call him if I’m at all serious about this undertaking. Yet something keeps me from doing so. One good thing about my job is that I can always rely upon an ever-replenishing list of mindless, ten-minute tasks to distract me from the harder, and more essential, work at hand. Tomorrow, I tell myself, on any number of tomorrows . Tomorrow will be a better day to call. I can’t quite chalk up my procrastination (though I try) to the onerous workplace demands upon my time, or to the three-hour time delay, which only slightly complicates matters. I think it only seems to me somehow not quite right that it can be so easy to make contact, that between workaday administrative duties I can simply pick up the phone, stab the keys, and in mere moments be speaking with the assistant coach I haven’t spoken with in twenty years. A more gradual, more rigorous, effort seems required. I had, in fact, begun this effort to reconnect in deliberate, distanced fashion , having written a query letter “to whom it may concern” and sending it off to Granada Hills High School, a charter school now, I discovered online. Would they, by any chance, have any records from the 1986 varsity 56 • My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White basketball season? Any contact information for players and coaches that might be of use? Coach Johnson had been somewhat long in the tooth back then. Did they know, even, whether he was still alive? Within days, I received a telephone call at my office from the athletic director at Granada Hills. An academic administrator myself, I can just imagine how this job was delegated to the poor shlub from the main office. Here, you deal with this? Tell this guy what he wants to know and get him off our backs. The young athletic director didn’t know about Coach Johnson (hadn’t heard of him, in fact) but Lou Cicciari was still coaching at Granada Hills! The girls basketball team. “Lou?” I asked him, incredulously. “The Lou? The guy who uses a wheelchair?” One and the same, apparently. The athletic director would mention my name to Lou, see if he remembered me (he did), and see if it was okay with Lou to give me his telephone number (it was). And so here it is, Coach Lou’s telephone number, resting like a challenge at the far corner of my desk. For God’s sake, Andy, I finally admonish myself in third-person, just pick up the goddamn phone and call already! “Andy Furman. It’s been a loooong time,” Lou exclaims at the other end of the line, his voice throaty, high-pitched, and instantly familiar. Yes, it certainly has been a long time, I agree. I hadn’t exactly practiced what I would say. There was just so much to say, given all the time that has passed. Lou goes first. He was married now, and had a daughter. He had coached the boys varsity at Granada Hills for a few years after Coach Johnson retired in 1993. Bob Johnson was still alive (!) and enjoying an active retirement, globetrotting with his wife to any number of exotic destinations for several weeks of the year. Lou had only coached the boys for a few years, then moved over to coach the girls, instead, as their schedule didn’t interfere with his own daughter’s basketball schedule. I congratulate my old coach. He was single when I knew him, and finishing up his education degree at CSUN. It occurs to me only now that Lou—who twenty years ago as “coach” seemed to occupy an entirely separate stratosphere —is actually only a few years older than I am. Lou remembered, somehow, that I had gone to college somewhere in Pennsylvania, which compels me to fill...


Subject Headings

  • San Fernando Valley (Calif.) -- Race relations.
  • San Fernando Valley (Calif.) -- Social Conditions.
  • Segregation in education -- California -- San Fernando Valley.
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Social conditions.
  • School integration -- California -- San Fernando Valley.
  • Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Race relations.
  • Basketball -- Social aspects -- California -- San Fernando Valley.
  • Granada Hills High School (Los Angeles, Calif.) -- Basketball.
  • Furman, Andrew, 1968- -- Anecdotes.
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