New Glarus 44, Manitowoc Roncalli 41 (copy)

New Glarus fans cheer on their team as they head out onto the court for the start of a Division 4 WIAA boys state basketball semifinal game against Manitowoc Roncalli at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., Thursday, March 14, 2019. AMBER ARNOLD, STATE JOURNAL

I celebrated yet another birthday earlier this week and, of course, was showered with presents from family members who probably figure they need to pull out all the stops in case this is the last one.

But we 79-year-olds are the new 60, so figure on putting up with us for awhile longer as we work out at the gym, still get to work and are able to drink beer at baseball games with the best of them.

Daughter Kris, son Dan and the grandkids showered me with humorous cards and fancy gift certificates, all of which I'll use and enjoy during the next several weeks. And sister Judy did her usual with a new book about history or the latest biography she knows I'll enjoy. This one was David McCullough's new book, "The Pioneers."

But I have to confess that while all the presents were great, my favorite one was nothing more than a t-shirt.

It was a special t-shirt, though — one that Dan, the basketball coach, arranged to get me from none other than my hometown, New Glarus.

He got New Glarus' basketball coach, Travis Sysko, to send him a t-shirt — an extremely colorful one at that — heralding New Glarus' Division 4 state championship, complete with the names of every player emblazoned on the back.

We didn't win any state championships while I was in school. In fact, New Glarus had never won one until this year.

The last time my high school had made state was back in 1932, even before my time.

I remember once asking my dad if New Glarus had ever been to a state tournament. He bristled at my historical ignorance and replied that, yes, it had — three times, once every seven years, in 1918, 1925 and 1932. He had no explanation for what happened to that once-every-seven year string.

Several of the players on this year's championship team were grandsons of classmates and buddies in my years at New Glarus High — names like Martinson, Feller, Schuett, Streiff.

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I, unfortunately, was in Arizona during the 2019 high school championships at the Kohl Center, otherwise I would have been there with what I understand was virtually every resident in the New Glarus School District.

The New Glarus Post Messenger Recorder described the "legions of fans" who lined Highway 69 as the school buses whisked the team to Madison for the championship game. It was nothing, though, compared to the celebration on the way home after the game, fire trucks and all.

Now I have a piece of that memorable event, something to talk about at our next reunion. The guys from "America's Little Switzerland" did good.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

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