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Members of the "Moose League" pose with Mooseheart boys basketball seniors (from left) Daniel Tucker, Noel Yarngo and Jesse Mennis at halftime of the Ramblers Senior Night contest with Harvest Christian. The Moose League raised $1500 through a shirt sale, money that enabled the Ramblers to buy their team shoes for the 2011-12 season.
Feb. 9, MOOSEHEART – Once upon a time, all basketball teams stepped onto the court wearing identical shoes. Those days of laced sartorial uniformity have been gone for years, but in some places, the concept of a “team shoe” is still alive.
One of those places is Mooseheart, where the boys basketball team has all been wearing the same shoe, thanks to a generous donation by a devoted group of Moose members from Batavia, IL Lodge 682.
These members, who call themselves the Moose League, raised $1500 by selling 30 “team shirts” at $50 apiece. One hundred percent of that money went to the 2011-12 Ramblers, who then bought their team shoes.
“It is the kind-heartedness of a bunch of men and women, who because they're Moose members and love what we do here, decided to get together and do something for the athletic program at Mooseheart,” Mooseheart boys basketball coach Ron Ahrens said. “They decided to buy the shoes for the boys basketball team, and that is just the greatest thing ever.”
Ahrens said he has seen very few teams wearing “team shoes.” Mostly, athletes wear individual shoes based on what their favorite players wear.
“I don't know if we've played a team that's worn the same shoes this year,” Ahrens said. “I like that concept. It's not all individuals saying 'I'm going to wear a different color than everyone else because I want to be an individual. I love that we're all wearing the same shoe.”
Matt Winkle was among those Moose League members instrumental in making sure the money was raised. The origins of the Moose League go back about 12 years.
“A couple of us started putting our kids to bed and then went to the Moose afterward for a bit of fellowship,” Winkle said. “It kind of grew from there. We'd meet more people and invite more people and it went from three to 25. We'd go down once a week.”
The idea of calling themselves a “league” carries more of the old-world concept of a “league” being “a collection of people” – a more 19th century definition that has been lost as leagues became gatherings of sports teams or athletes who compete in individual sports together. A few years ago, the idea was discussed to formalize the Moose League by having shirts printed.
“We kind of batted it around and said 'why don't we try to raise some money for the kids at Mooseheart,'” Winkle said. “So we bought these and sold them for $50 apiece and raised $1500.”
The Ramblers were honored for their donation at halftime of Thursday's Senior Night Contest at Mooseheart. Winkle said he liked how the Ramblers looked in their team footwear.
“We're already starting to talk about raising money for next year,” Winkle said. “The shoes look great. The one thing we said was that we wanted something that the kids could keep. We didn't want to get equipment. We wanted to give them something that they could wear and then keep as their own.”