Inside Preps: Now That's A Perfect Scorebook
Thu. January 17, 2013 at 3:00 a.m. | By Bill Kemp
By BILL KEMP
I've seen oodles of scorekeepers operate through the years, but I was intrigued when I encountered Winter Haven basketball scorebook keeper Leigha Richardson at halftime Friday at Kathleen High School.
She had eight, sharp pencils rolled out like they were riding a tail gunner's belt feeder. I mean precisely positioned, sharp and ready.
Of course, I said something.
She told me the pencils were not backups. There was a pencil assigned for each quarter — four for JV and four for varsity — and no pencil was to be used twice in the same night.
It turns out Richardson began keeping basketball scorebooks in 1986, during her sophomore year at Bedford North Lawrence High School in Bedford, Ind., and continued until graduation. This was during the Damon Bailey era.
"I was a senior when he was a sophomore," Richardson said.
For those who don't remember, Bailey came into the national spotlight when Indiana University head coach Bobby Knight began recruiting him as an eighth-grader. He became a four-year starter for the Hoosiers before a brief NBA career.
While scorekeeper's stats show up in newspapers, the scorekeepers go virtually unnoticed and unrecognized for their efforts. And it was evident Richardson went the extra mile to do a precise job.
I emailed Winter Haven head coach Tyrone Woodside to get the inside scoop.
"She was traumatized as a child by Bobby Knight… lol…," responded Woodside.
It turns out Richardson's godmother lived a few houses down from Knight in Bloomington, Ind., where she used to go for visits.
Knight's house was on the corner, and the kids played kickball in the street in front of the house, and they had been warned not to let the ball land on Knight's neatly manicured lawn.
"He didn't like you stepping in his yard," Richardson said, who was 11 when the inevitable happened.
"We were kicking the ball, and it landed in his yard, and he came out screaming. So we picked the ball up and ran. It was scary," Richardson said. "I still don't know how he saw us. ... I just thought he was some mean old man who was yelling at me.
"We still played (there) but we never went in his yard again."
Despite the encounter, Richardson became a life-long Indiana Hoosier and Bobby Knight fan. And she perfected her scorebook-keeping abilities watching Indiana games on television.
Richardson, who now has her sons involved in scorekeeping, said the Indiana prep basketball scene prepared her for Winter Haven and coach Woodside.
"He reminds me of the coaches back in Indiana. He's just very detailed and just knows his stuff," Richardson said. "You want a clean book because the coaches depend on you. You want them to have trust in you."
Richardson, who kept stats at Auburndale in 2004-05 before moving onto the Blue Devils, said she came up with the pencil-per-quarter practice at Winter Haven.
"I came up with that when I starting doing it for coach Woodside. He pays more attention to detail than anybody I've ever known."
Woodside said not only does she keep an amazing book, but she even worked on her wedding anniversary.
"Just look at her book. She even gets the player's number next to every point scored at the top," Woodside said.