I can’t remember the exact date that I first met Tim Absher, but nearly every West Wilkes home basketball game that I’ve covered over the past nine years, he has sat in nearly the same spot, usually with the same company around him.
Derek Carter, West Wilkes’ girls basketball assistant coach, left me a message on my work phone last Tuesday morning, and the reality for many set in that his vantage point to watch the Blackhawks on the hardwood (and really all of their sports for that matter) will be a little different now.
Since Allie Greene, West Wilkes’ head girls basketball coach and Tim’s daughter, took over the girls basketball program in Millers Creek prior to the 2009-10 season, her father usually was either on the sidelines while she coached or sitting directly across the court from the Blackhawks’ bench.
Last Tuesday night against Davie County was the first regular season game that Greene coached when her father was not on the sidelines. A Wilkes County native, Absher died back in May at the age of 67.
“It definitely was different. Every time I walk in this gym, it’s hard to look in that corner and not see him there, whether it’s games or practice,” said Greene. “But he was there tonight. He was there watching down on us and with everybody’s shirts (ones that read Papa Tim Night with the initials TA on them), he was very well-represented tonight.”
Whenever I covered the Blackhawks, no matter how busy I was running around, I would always try to speak to him. He was very knowledgeable about the game of basketball and always stated, in a very gruff voice, how much he loved watching the game.
Tuesday’s game was themed Papa Tim Night in remembrance of Absher, who was also the grandfather of current West Wilkes guard Jamesyn Bell.
At games when he wasn’t helping his daughter coach, he usually sat with his wife, Vikki, as well as Angel Absher Bell and Marty Bell — his daughter and son-in law — along with several others including his grandson, Jackson Bell, and granddaughter, Annalee Bell.
But according to Greene, Absher’s love for Blackhawk athletics went well beyond the basketball court.
“He was such a big supporter,” said Greene. “Rarely did you see him in something that wasn’t West Wilkes and it wasn’t always West Wilkes basketball. He would wear West Wilkes baseball and some football — he was West Wilkes all the way.
“A lot of times at football games, he beat the bus to the game because he was there, ready to support the team,” added Greene. “Whether it was girls or boys, he was there watching them play.”
Prior to the start of varsity girls warm ups against the War Eagles, a ceremony was held. Scottie Greene, West Wilkes’ Head Boys Basketball Coach and Tim’s other son-in law, gave a very heartfelt speech that was well-received by many. Rylea Church, the Blackhawks’ lone senior, presented a plaque that featured a photo of Absher, Allie Greene and her daughter/his youngest grandchild, Ella, to Greene.
Afterwards, each member of the varsity girls squad walked across the court and placed a flower on the chair where Absher usually sat that had an orange West Wilkes windbreaker and black West Wilkes ball cap.
While Absher’s love was primarily for West Wilkes, he had a passion for all of the Wilkes County basketball programs; that was evident by the reception received on Tuesday night.
“He worked with girls in the AAU program who played at all four high schools and some counties surrounding us, but he helped me coach at North, he helped me here for many, many years and numerous travel teams that he’s been involved with,” said Greene. “There were a lot of people here tonight that weren’t West people but they were here because of him.”