TEAM CHEMISTRY (62)

A team requires a “critical mass.” Chemistry. We had that in 1979. Tom
Morris was the leader. Part of the Bassett Furniture family, they lived in the
wealthiest part of Columbia, South Carolina. Sam Modlin’s family of six
lived in a trailer. Tom and Sam were the closest of friends. Sam died in a car
crash two years after graduation. Tom’s father, Jack Morris, told me that he
thought Tom almost died himself when Sam was killed. Sam was a beauty,
and we still miss him. Jay Aldridge was the third member of that critical threesome. Jay won  the first Maryland High School tennis singles title by the score of 7–6, 6–7, 7–6. Played indoors with the old nine-point tiebreaker in existence, Jay said neither he nor his opponent  lost their service. Jay won the last breaker 5–4, having the last serve by
virtue of winning the toss. A junior on this team, Brian Staub was from
the Hampton, Virginia, area. His coach, Ron McVittie, had quit coaching
Brian’s team because of the team behavior, including Brian’s. I’d never met
Brian when he showed up at one of our matches. Jay told me who he was,
and that he was ranked number five in the middle Atlantic states. That was
a good ranking for our level. I introduced myself to Brian and asked if he
was visiting a friend? “No sir, he said, I’m hoping I can be on your team next
year.” Brian went on to explain that he’d felt so bad about his coach, he’d
begged him to return. Classmates were mad because McVittie was a great
person and coach. “If you won’t return, will you please help me with mycollege choice,” Brian begged. Coach McVittie advised him to “go to Atlan-
tic Christian College, they have a coach there who can keep you straight.”

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