A photo of the 1963 state championship Travelers Rest team on display at TRHS. (Dec. 7, 2012/FOX Carolina)
The surviving members of the team and family receive their rings and plaques at Friday's ceremony. (Dec. 7, 2012/FOX Carolina)
TRAVELERS REST, SC (FOX Carolina) -
A high school state championship is the stuff of legends in any generation.
One from 1963 in Travelers Rest made history and Friday night, between the women's and men's basketball games at Travelers Rest High School, the remaining players from that game almost 50 years ago finally got the championship rings they deserved.
As exciting as it was for the men, now in their late 60s, to get rings for that state championship, for many of them it was a rare opportunity to see the friends they played ball with 50 years ago.
The team won 22 games and only lost one to their biggest rival, Slater Marietta High School.
The championship was held in Columbia, at the University of South Carolina, and according to Ben Hester, who scored the final point that made them winners, "We thought we were really doing something for playing in there."
Friday the remaining members of the '63 Devil Dogs, and family members of those who have passed, were celebrated with rings which didn't exist at the time.
Roger Hayes was team captain. He and Hester's brother, Terry, orchestrated the evening.
The team has stayed in loose touch over the years, but wanted a special way to commemorate the 50th anniversary and see each other again. Businesses in the community helped pay for the rings, but for the men, reminiscing was the best part.
Paul Goebel was the coach that took them to state; he was a Furman University student, only filling in for the team's regular coach, Joe Small, who suffered a heart attack before the season.
Chuck Werner said Goebel launched a new defense, "which was unheard of at the time," and took them to the championship with it.
It was a moment in Goebel's extensive coaching history..
"I coached a team that won third in the nation in junior college, [coached the] Phoenix Suns. I coached in college, but nothing was ever more important or bigger to me than this and never will be," Goebel said of the Travelers Rest championship.
Joe Small did return to coach the next year and took the 1964 team all the way to winning the state championship as well.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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