One very special grandma

One very special grandma

In our business, we get calls, emails or letters all the time from folks extolling the virtues of a child — or grandchild — whom they believe is an up-and-coming prospect. The hope is that we will write a profile on the person.
The reality of the situation is this: before these individuals get into high school, there’s seldom the opportunity to document the exploits of these youngsters. There isn’t the time, nor the space and — in the bigger picture — we’d like to think these pre-teens are playing for the pure joy of the game as opposed to seeking recognition.
Some cases, we’ll learn later, never pan out. Maybe the children were pushed too hard, too early, and face burn out. Maybe they’ve matured earlier than their peers and their best days in sports are achieved in their pre-high school years.
Once in a while, that well-intentioned contact person hit the nail on the head.
I am reminded today about the first time I heard from Mary Miebach. She was just a name on the other end of an email. I’d never heard of her and wouldn’t have recognized her if I saw her in the gym. She wasn’t discouraged.
She passed along information about her granddaughter, whom I believe was in fifth grade in Philo at the time. She told me to keep an eye on Randa Harshbarger, that she would be making a name for herself in the sporting world.
I’m she sure was a justifiably proud grandmother. I’m pretty confident she also knew what it took to make a special player and recognized those traits — especially desire and tenacity — in young Randa years ago.
Over the subsequent years, I met Mary Miebach once. Another time, she waved at me from across the gym floor at St. Thomas More. When I wrote the story last spring about our girls’ basketball Area Player of the Year — the same Randa Harshbarger — I tracked down her phone number and called for some comments.
It was a neat sidebar that begged to be told with the story of Randa, who helped the Sabers reached the Class 2A state championship game in her junior year and has now signed a college scholarship offer to continue her career at the University of Southern Indiana.
She would sign her emails Grandma Mary, or some form thereof. The last one came on the afternoon of Nov. 21. It was typical of her nature and her attitude. Not complaining. Not wanting more attention for her family member. Just graciously showing her thankfulness.
She wrote:
“Thanks for the great article on the Naperville game (against St. Thomas More on Nov. 19).  Naturally I think our team is AWESOME, and naturally I think #1 (Randa Harshbarger) is the most awesome. My scrapbook is off to a great start. ... Gr. Mary.”
I was saddened to hear today of her passing, at 81.
My world was a better place these past seven years. For others, their worlds were a better place for more than eight decades.
There will be emails from other parents and grandparents, I am sure. But I don’t expect to hear from another like Grandma Mary.

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janetlmurray wrote on December 12, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Thanks for a wonderful post about our beloved #1 fan, Grandma Mary.  Her absence will be hard on our team, staff, and STM girls basketball family.  She was a constant positive presence at games and quick to send Randa's coaches and teammates emails of congratulations or to let them know she thought they were doing a good job.  We are  better for having known her.  Her passion, joy, pride, and enthusiasm was contagious.  We appreciate you recognizing such a special lady.