After 52 years, 'RR' passes JTSL torch
ED HEDES/TIMES NEWS Randy Rabenold has turned over the reigns of the Jim Thorpe Summer Basketball League to a new regime after 52 years on the sidelines.
Mike Krzyzewski, Pat Summit, Rick Pitino, and Jim Boeheim are all legendary basketball figures with courts named in their honor. To the players past and present of the Jim Thorpe Summer League Randy Rabenold is just as legendary. That's why it's no surprise the black top that has served as the JTSL's home for so many years is dubbed Randolph Rabenold Court.
"RR" did so much for a small basketball league that made the people involved feel a part of something bigger. Whether a player received an award not always based on talent but hustle or the souvenir book at the end of the year, "RR" just made things fun.
"Every year Randy would publish a souvenir book with stats and standings", said new Senior League Commissioner Kevin Binder. "There were also articles about anything to do with anyone from Jim Thorpe in the news that year. It didn't matter if it was a Little league team or a kid graduating from college."
The JTSL was started in 1957 by former Olympian Coach Ken Kline. Kline led Jim Thorpe to back-to-back State Championships in 62' and 63' winning gold in '62. The league was first only open to local Carbon County High School teams and was played at Sam Miller Field courts in the heights of West Jim Thorpe. The league moved to Jim Thorpe Memorial Park in 1961 and didn't change over into an adult league until 1966. Rabenold began his career with the league in '57 as a referee and scorekeeper and from 1958 until 2010 served as Senior League Commissioner for an incredible 52-year run.
Rabenold not only ran the adult league in Jim Thorpe, but started coaching basketball for the Olympians in 1963 at the Jr. High and Freshmen level. He carried 20 junior high and freshman players and using his artistic abilities Rabenold created tee shirts for the overflow of kids, whom which Joe Boyle dubbed "Randy's Raiders."
"Randy's dedication in everything he has done here for the community has always been tireless", stated current commissioner John McGinley. "He painted a special ball for the all star game, always kept all the stats, and got every sponsor to donate money every year. Things always ran smoothly and the environment "RR" created was something I'll never forget."
Rabenold was aided along the way with the success of the JTSL by Harold Hydro, Bill McGinley, Darryl Zurn, "Jon Jon" McGinley, "Sinbad McGinley", Pete McGuire Sr., Pete McGuire Jr., Leo O'donnell, and current Senior Commissioner Kevin Binder.
It's sad to say there will be no more clouds of cigar smoke coming from the scorers table, no more 1970's style Jim Thorpe ball caps, and no more hand shakes after volunteering to ref a game. For those who play in the JTSL all they need to remind them of Randy Rabenold's service is the signature "RR" beneath their feet.
It's common in life that all good things must come to an end and "RR" may not be keeping score or shaking hands but his legend is layered within the asphalt and it truly is and always will be Randy Rabenold Court.