Kingswood-Oxford 1975 Basketball Trip to Prague
By Timothy Ribadeneyra
I found a couple of newspaper articles in a folder my Mom saved for me about a trip the Kingswood-Oxford high school basketball team made in late 1975 to Prague Czechoslovakia, Zurich Switzerland, Barcelona Spain and Paris France. The main reason for the trip was to play in a holiday tournament in Prague as the first high school team to play behind the “Iron Curtain”. One of the articles was written by Headmaster Lazear and his wife. It is very interesting, much more so today than when I was a teenager, and makes me appreciate the experience. However, I remember it much differently. Some of my memories:
- My first plane over water landing in Amsterdam without a hitch. However, the plane from Amsterdam to Prague was very rough and I remember Coach Doyle getting sick.
- The first day was bad with a lot of complaining due to jet lag, the terrible food (one dish the first night was some kind of jelly covered fish…yuck), and the “four-star hotel” that didn’t have showers.
- Everything was gray and dreary.
- The tournament was played in a bubble with multiple courts. I got in the first game and felt like I was moving in slow motion. I think someone blocked my shot with their elbow and two seconds later the horn sounded and Ribadeneyra took a seat on the bench for the rest of the tournament.
- People asked some of the players for autographs….there was a lot of curiosity about us.
- The Czech players did not have the nice sneakers and athletic socks we had (we wore high whites). A lot of black socks, in vogue today, but not then. Some of them came to our hotel to buy our equipment willing to pay high mark-ups. We found out later we could’ve been arrested for doing this.
- For food, we found a sausage stand down the street that also sold pivo (beer) and that became our standard daily fare. At night we would load up and go back to play cards and goof around. We had a blast!
- Tournament went on for 5 or 6 days and I think the teams were slightly older than us. We had a great team and won the tournament!
- However, there were no showers so the only thing you could do was wash up from a sink in the room. Wasn’t as bad for me since I didn’t play much, but was awful for the guys putting in big minutes.
- One team that didn’t get to play us in the tournament invited us to their gym to play. When we got here we found out they had showers. Needless to say our minds were not on the game and we got blown out. Best shower ever!
- We were in Prague New Year’s Eve and attended a great party. Very lively music and the food was actually very good. Two players who will remain nameless had a contest to see who could drink more wine. Was not a pretty ending.
- Spent one night in Zurich. Prostitution was legal so the “ladies of the night” that were walking around were of much interest, especially to teenage boys.
- We didn’t have ipods or iphones back then and really missed our music. Remember one of our bus rides everyone singing Earth Wind & Fire (maybe “Fame”). It actually wasn’t bad if I remember correctly.
- Spend 3 days in Barcelona and two in Paris. We played exhibitions, did some sight-seeing and had a blast. Don’t remember many specific events.
The team members were, Pat Avery, Alex Kessler, Alex Schwartz, Phil Moran, Doug Harris, Stu Frank, Jon Graham, Mike D’Apice, Roland Wilson, Rick Beckerman and myself, Tim Ribadeneyra. Great group of guys. Amazed I remember so much from over 40 years ago. Would love to hear from others about things I missed.