Showing off his team spirit

— Sports fans around the world show their support in all sorts of ways.

They paint their faces, dress in team colors and come up with all kinds of new and interesting ways to show support for their teams.

You can bet your life savings that where there is a professional football game there is probably a guy who has had one too many beers and has decided that taking his shirt off is the best way to prove his dedication to the team.

You all know the guy I’m talking about, right?

It’s that guy who has front row seats, is usually about 30 pounds overweight and is always somewhere near a television camera when the mercury in the thermometer drops below freezing.

But taking your shirt off in front of a television camera in someplace like Green Bay or even Denver isn’t the only way to show your dedication to a team.

Just take a look at local basketball fan Bill Gay.

In the past several years, he has become one of the biggest Sailors basketball fans and coach Kelly Meek can only dream that he will find more fans like Gay. And the best part of it all is that Gay shows his support for the team without embarrassing it.

It’s kind of a funny story. Gay never played basketball, never had a child who played the game and only saw a limited number of Sailors games when he was a student.

“I never had the chance to play in high school,” he said. “I grew up on a ranch, so I didn’t have a lot of time to do things like play basketball or even to get out and watch it.”

Instead, he spent his afternoons on the family ranch in Pleasant Valley helping his dad feed cattle, shovel snow from the haystacks and handle the never-ending chores that ranch life provides.

“I have no regrets that I never played basketball,” Gay said. “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

But the longtime rancher hasn’t let his lack of playing time in high school dampen his spirit as a fan of high school sports most notably basketball.

These days, you can find Gay in the mix of fans at both home and away games around the region.

It’s rare to see these types of fans in the stands. The truth is that most of the people who are in the stands at youth sporting events are parents, students or friends of players.

“It’s pretty simple for me,” Gay said. “I don’t look at them as someone else’s kids. These are our kids and our future.”

So, after working outside for seven days a week, Gay often jumps in his vehicle and heads to Sailors games on the weekend. He said the games are exciting and fun and “it’s nice to head into a nice warm gym after a day of working in the cold.”

He also likes to get a chance to get inside the schools and see what the young people in the community are doing.

He believes that high school sports offer a window into the life of the students and the schools where they learn. Gay said he also supports 4-H and the Future Farmers of America as well, but basketball has found a special place in his heart.

“I don’t really know that much about the game, but it’s always fun to watch Kelly’s teams win or lose,” Gay said.

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