STERLING – When Tim Trosper walked into Musgrove Fieldhouse on Thursday night, it was a walk down memory lane.
Trosper, 48, was among the spectators at the Sauk Valley Media All-Star Classic, held at Musgrove Fieldhouse. It was 30 years ago that Trosper, a Rochelle High School standout athlete, put on a dominating performance in the very first of these games, then known as the Telegraph All-Star Classic and held at Lancaster Gym in Dixon.
The 6-foot-3 Trosper led the East squad to a 108-81 victory over the West all-stars, with a stat line of 27 points and 21 rebounds. He was more pleased to get the win than with his own personal numbers.
"They talked a lot of crap about us," Trosper said of the West squad, "and one of my favorite memories is the fact that our team bonded together and took it to 'em. Even though I was the MVP, I think you could have taken a few of the other guys on our team and given them the MVP."
While teams now practice once, or perhaps twice, for the all-star game, Trosper noted the East squad practiced 10 times over a 2-week period in Amboy. The team's head coach was the late Gary Croegaert.
During one of the practices, held at the Amboy junior high, assistant coach Lloyd Johnson, then the coach at Ohio, approached Trosper.
"He said, Tim, I hear you're the leaper, you're the guy that's going to win this dunk contest pretty easily,'" Trosper said. "He said, 'I want you to show me your best dunk.' My best dunk was I'd throw it up from halfcourt, run, jump, catch it, 360 and dunk it."
Trosper executed the dunk flawlessly, but there was a catch. The rim at the Amboy junior high was not the forgiving variety often found nowadays, and the force of the slam shattered the glass backboard.
"I was a little bit shocked that happened, because I didn't hang on the rim, and I wasn't trying to do that," Trosper said. "It just broke."
As Trosper scooped up the shards of glass as a souvenir, Croegaert entered the gym. The long-time Clippers coach was not amused.
"He looked at me and said, 'You'd better pick a lot of that up, Trosper, because that's going to cost you a thousand dollars,'" Trosper said. "I was like, 'Oh my gosh. I'm 18 years old, and the coach is telling me I'm going to owe a thousand dollars."
The dunk contest that first year ended up getting canceled, for insurance purposes, as a result of the shattered backboard. In 1985, Trosper, then a freshman at Kishwaukee Community College, was asked back to be a judge of the dunk contest at the second annual Telegraph All-Star Classic.
The winner was an Amboy player, John Bothe, who ironically also broke a backboard during all-star game practice.
Trosper's eyes lit up when asked about the whole all-star game experience. When his Hubs played at Dixon, he noted the gym was perhaps half full. For the all-star game, there wasn't an empty seat.
College recruiters flocked to the game, and swarmed the players afterwards.
"The atmosphere was just incredible," Trosper said. "It was the middle of the summer, really hot, but the gym was packed. It was like there was electricity in the air."
Trosper was an all-stater at Rochelle, and played in all-star games in Rockford, Peoria, Chicago and Valparaiso, Ind., following his senior year. His favorite was the smallest one.
"By far the best feeling, the best electricity we had was in Dixon," Trosper said. "It was insane."
Trosper now lives in Byron, with his wife of 25 years, Norma, and their two children, Whitney, 20, and Billy 15. A successful run in the family business, Spider Company Inc., allowed him to retire at 46, giving him the opportunity to follow his children's athletic endeavors.
Whitney was a member of the Rock Valley College volleyball team that won a national championship 2 years ago. Billy, a 6-3, 280-pounder, is a "beast" on the football field, according to his father, and also a track standout in the throws.
In high school, Trosper cleared 6-7 in the high jump, and had top times of 49 seconds flat in the 400 and 21.7 in the 200. After high school, with more advanced coaching, he cleared 7 feet in the high jump.
Those numbers pale in comparison, however, to the joy he gets from watching his kids do their thing.
"I have phenomenal memories of my sports career," Trosper said, "but they don't compare to the memories that I have with my children. My daughter will tell you that I'm a cryer with that kind of stuff. I've been blessed with children who are good students and good athletes."
High school: Rochelle, class of 1984
Family: Wife, Norma; children, Whitney, 20, Billy, 15
FYI: All-state basketball player and track star for Hubs. ... MVP of first Telegraph All-Star Classic 30 years ago with 27 points and 21 rebounds