Sports And The Bloom

Shenandoah Apple Blossom 2022

Greetings from The Booth!

The Booth this week is festooned in pink and green bunting as we celebrate the 95th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. The “Bloom” is one of my favorite times of year, as the Winchester area shuts down and goes into party mode with 40 events in 10 days, many of them sports-related. There are Apple Blossom Golf and Tennis Tournaments, an Apple Blossom 10k, a Kids Bloomin’ Mile, and this year, a new E-Sports Tournament.

But the centerpiece of the Festival as it pertains to sports is the Apple Blossom Sports Breakfast. This event is held on the last Saturday of the Bloom and features some top sports celebrities and also honors a “Sports Breakfast Hall Of Fame” class. This years HOF inductees include James R. Wilkins, a great local athlete back in the day, and an even greater philanthropist. The Wilkins Center at Shenandoah University is, of course, named after Mr. Wilkins. Through his generosity, that showplace now exists on the SU campus. That is just one example of how Mr. Wilkins has given back to his community.

The Sports Breakfast also honors some of our local athletes, and this year, that group includes the Hornets’ own Olivia Weinel, who is not only a stellar Basketball player, but excels in the classroom. In addition to Olivia, some athletes from our local high schools will be recognized, a huge moment that they will always remember.

And, in attendance every year are some really big names in sports, and 2022 is no exception. Terry Bradshaw is the overall Grand Marshal of the 95th Bloom, not to mention basketball’s “Dr. J,” Julius Erving. A few words about each…

Some of the younger sports fans out there may only know Bradshaw from the Sunday Fox NFL Pregame Show, as he banters back and forth with Howie and Jimmy and the rest of the crew. But it was Terry Bradshaw that quarterbacked the Pittsburgh Steelers to 4 Super Bowl titles in the decade of the 70s. The Pittsburgh “Steel Curtain” defense grabbed most of the headlines in that era, but Bradshaw saved his best for the big moments, namely the Super Bowl. With a flick of the wrist, Bradshaw launched bombs to the likes of Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, usually when the Big Game was on the line.

He was also involved in one of the biggest plays in NFL history, the “Immaculate Reception,” a play that’s been analyzed more than the Zapruder film. By now you know about this miracle play that happened in the 1972 playoffs. It can be argued that without the Immaculate Reception, there would have been no Steeler dynasty in the 1970s. Post-football, Bradshaw has parlayed his “yokum” persona into a very successful career, but don’t be fooled. You can’t succeed as a quarterback in the NFL without a high IQ. He is also a very good speaker, and is well worth seeing at the Sports Breakfast.

As for Dr. J, Julius Erving, he was the reason every kid in my neighborhood wanted one of those ABA red white and blue basketballs. Before his stint in the NBA, Erving was a member of the Virginia Squires and the New York Nets, and along with players like George “Iceman” Gervin, was part of a colorful group of ABA players. If the NBA was Classical, the ABA was Jazz, and Dr. J. was the Miles Davis of b-ball. He is probably the reason the NBA has a dunk contest. (remember his highlight dunk, sailing through the air from the foul line?) Erving is one of the great elder statesmen and ambassadors of the game of basketball and makes a house call this Saturday at The Bloom!

Have a great Apple Blossom and until the next visit from The Booth…GO HORNETS!

RW