Members from the 1954 Fayetteville-Manlius basketball team passed their beloved trophy back to their alma mater Dec. 9, years after it was discarded by the school. Tom Hall, former teacher and lacrosse coach, found the 1954-55 Section III Championship trophy decades ago in a trash bin, said team member Dan Lynch, and retrieved it thinking it would be something the team would cherish.
Hall was right.
The trophy was passed among the players, making occasional appearances at class reunions. At the last mini-reunion, teammate Jerry Ager had the trophy completely refurbished. The team then opted to restore it to the high school display case where they said they felt it belonged.
"The trophy is a symbol of our spirit that drove our team to greatness," Lynch said. "[It's] a focal point of our past life-changing experience, one whose memory never dims."
The trophy represents the singular Section III Basketball Championship at F-M, "a feat not since duplicated," Lynch said. The group was also one of the first teams ever fielded by the newly consolidated schools from Fayetteville and Manlius.
"We were the vanguard of all succeeding F-M student athletic excellence -- a living history," Lynch said.
So why was the memorial of victory discarded?
"It's possible it was broken or it could have been a matter of thinning out trophy cases and making room for others," said F-M Athletic Director Rich Roy. "It's purely speculation on my part."
During half-time last week at the F-M Varsity basketball game against Corcoran High School, a well-received special ceremony was held between the school and its former athletes and cheerleaders, where F-M officials graciously accepted the trophy's return.
"It was a good and joyous feeling to see our 'baby' back in the hands of the school where it belongs," Lynch said.
Roy noted that the former athletes' appearance brought a historical perspective to the student body, which made the evening that much more meaningful. The team even acknowledged the girls' cross country team's recent winnings, and touched on the level of difficulty it takes to earn the highest title in sports.
"When you bring back a championship team, especially from that long ago, it blends the past and the present together," Roy said. "It was a great evening."