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Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

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asu66
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Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by asu66 » Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:39 pm

It was 21 years and eight days ago today that word quickly spread across the App family that *new* MBB star RUFUS LEACH had lost his life in a swimming tragedy at Watauga Lake while swimming with fellow Mountaineer and best friend, Buddy Davis. This was the summer before Rufus' senior year and last year of eligibility and the summer before the official opening of the Holmes Convocation Center.

(It was also the very week that word leaked out that Buzz had given Tulsa his "high-sign." This, of course, was also after Buzz had accepted the HC position at Missouri State and then changed his mind, stating that he and Jan loved ASU and The High Country and couldn't bear the thought of leaving.) :evil:

I hope all who read this will take a few moments to reflect on the life of a young, intensely-determined, self-made serious college student, self-made man, self-motivated Mountaineer basketballer who lost his life way, way too soon. Reflect also on Buddy Davis. I knew Buddy in those days and (while I've lost touch with him) I'm confident that he'll be re-living that dreadful time as long as he lives.

Not happy days in App State history!

https://www.wataugademocrat.com/communi ... 3a.hishtml


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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by NewApp » Wed Jun 16, 2021 6:17 pm

asu66 wrote:
Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:39 pm
It was 21 years and eight days ago today that word quickly spread across the App family that *new* MBB star RUFUS LEACH had lost his life in a swimming tragedy at Watauga Lake while swimming with fellow Mountaineer and best friend, Buddy Davis. This was the summer before Rufus' senior year and last year of eligibility and the summer before the official opening of the Holmes Convocation Center.

(It was also the very week that word leaked out that Buzz had given Tulsa his "high-sign." This, of course, was also after Buzz had accepted the HC position at Missouri State and then changed his mind, stating that he and Jan loved ASU and The High Country and couldn't bear the thought of leaving.) :evil:

I hope all who read this will take a few moments to reflect on the life of a young, intensely-determined, self-made serious college student, self-made man, self-motivated Mountaineer basketballer who lost his life way, way too soon. Reflect also on Buddy Davis. I knew Buddy in those days and (while I've lost touch with him) I'm confident that he'll be re-living that dreadful time as long as he lives.

Not happy days in App State history!

https://www.wataugademocrat.com/communi ... 3a.hishtml
Site wouldn't open up.


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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by appdaze » Wed Jun 16, 2021 8:49 pm




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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by Appstrong » Wed Jun 16, 2021 9:12 pm

This happened a couple of years after I graduated. To this day, no matter how strong a swimmer, no one is allowed to swim off our boat in a lake without a life jacket. Call me over protective, but to see it happen to such a fit individual really had an impact on me.



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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by NewApp » Thu Jun 17, 2021 11:00 am

Leach's presence might have made a difference in the Carolina game that season. Maybe not a victory but a closer score.


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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by EastHallApp » Thu Jun 17, 2021 2:16 pm

As that was my senior year, I remember the season well and fondly, and that day, obviously, sadly. I actually learned from seeing it on the crawl on ESPN.

A personal tragedy, first and foremost. Also the first in a series of events that basically took App basketball back to square one.



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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by EastHallApp » Thu Jun 17, 2021 2:18 pm

asu66 wrote:
Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:39 pm
It was 21 years and eight days ago today that word quickly spread across the App family that *new* MBB star RUFUS LEACH had lost his life in a swimming tragedy at Watauga Lake while swimming with fellow Mountaineer and best friend, Buddy Davis. This was the summer before Rufus' senior year and last year of eligibility and the summer before the official opening of the Holmes Convocation Center.

(It was also the very week that word leaked out that Buzz had given Tulsa his "high-sign." This, of course, was also after Buzz had accepted the HC position at Missouri State and then changed his mind, stating that he and Jan loved ASU and The High Country and couldn't bear the thought of leaving.) :evil:

I hope all who read this will take a few moments to reflect on the life of a young, intensely-determined, self-made serious college student, self-made man, self-motivated Mountaineer basketballer who lost his life way, way too soon. Reflect also on Buddy Davis. I knew Buddy in those days and (while I've lost touch with him) I'm confident that he'll be re-living that dreadful time as long as he lives.

Not happy days in App State history!

https://www.wataugademocrat.com/communi ... 3a.hishtml
Even though I was in school then, I didn't know Davis personally. But even just watching him on the court, I felt like he was never the same. Hope he eventually made peace with it as best he could.



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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by asu66 » Fri Jun 18, 2021 3:10 pm

EastHallApp wrote:
Thu Jun 17, 2021 2:18 pm
asu66 wrote:
Wed Jun 16, 2021 4:39 pm
It was 21 years and eight days ago today that word quickly spread across the App family that *new* MBB star RUFUS LEACH had lost his life in a swimming tragedy at Watauga Lake while swimming with fellow Mountaineer and best friend, Buddy Davis. This was the summer before Rufus' senior year and last year of eligibility and the summer before the official opening of the Holmes Convocation Center.

(It was also the very week that word leaked out that Buzz had given Tulsa his "high-sign." This, of course, was also after Buzz had accepted the HC position at Missouri State and then changed his mind, stating that he and Jan loved ASU and The High Country and couldn't bear the thought of leaving.) :evil:

I hope all who read this will take a few moments to reflect on the life of a young, intensely-determined, self-made serious college student, self-made man, self-motivated Mountaineer basketballer who lost his life way, way too soon. Reflect also on Buddy Davis. I knew Buddy in those days and (while I've lost touch with him) I'm confident that he'll be re-living that dreadful time as long as he lives.

Not happy days in App State history!

https://www.wataugademocrat.com/communi ... 3a.hishtml
Even though I was in school then, I didn't know Davis personally. But even just watching him on the court, I felt like he was never the same. Hope he eventually made peace with it as best he could.
My read on Buddy's game mirrors yours. Going into that summer of 2000, there were high expectations for the Apps' inaugural season in HCC. Rufus and Buddy would be returning along with Shawn Alexander, Corey Cooper, Noah Brown, Jonathan Butler and Josh Shehan. The incoming recruiting class included Josh Hare (Tennessee's 1999-2000 Mr. Basketball), Matt Jones, 6-11 260 Brian Boxler and JuCo Donald Payne. The HCC opener was a guaranteed sell-out with the Tarhicks as the visitors. Things seemed on track until those two horrible phone calls from the Watauga Sheriff's office were answered in Roachel Laney's office and in Chancellor Borkowski's office.

Then it slowly came unglued. Rufus' death and Peterson's departure left the team reeling. From the start, a couple of players tested new head coach Houston Fancher's rules and his patience. The team, minus Peterson's discipline and Rufus' leadership, spun out of control. Carolina set the tone for the first half of the season by tarnishing the new home court in a 99-69 blowout. The Apps followed up the Carolina debacle by losing four of their next six games. Game No. eight, a very winnable home contest against Gardner-Webb was converted into a three-point loss. Headlines the very next day revealed that Alexander and Cooper had been dismissed from the team for rules violations--some of which may have involved criminal activity. The Apps would stumble into the semester break by suffering two more blowout losses--by 20 at home to UNC-A and by 17 at ECU.

Through it all, Buddy was clearly not in it with his play and found himself coming off the bench. As a senior, he was never quite the same Buddy Davis on the court. I also hope he's been able to find peace.


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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by GoBoone » Fri Jun 18, 2021 9:50 pm

Appstrong wrote:
Wed Jun 16, 2021 9:12 pm
This happened a couple of years after I graduated. To this day, no matter how strong a swimmer, no one is allowed to swim off our boat in a lake without a life jacket. Call me over protective, but to see it happen to such a fit individual really had an impact on me.
Rufus was on a friend of mine’s boat that day. He jumped in the water to swim and immediately cramped up and yelled for help. They turned around to throw him a flotation object and he was gone. Don’t believe any of them thought it was that deep where they were. I was told that he never went anywhere without his bible.



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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by Appstrong » Sat Jun 19, 2021 6:59 am

A good read from a few years back in case some might have missed it.

https://www.robesonian.com/sports/11131 ... y-lives-on



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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by NewApp » Sat Jun 19, 2021 8:34 am

Appstrong wrote:
Sat Jun 19, 2021 6:59 am
A good read from a few years back in case some might have missed it.

https://www.robesonian.com/sports/11131 ... y-lives-on

Man, if one doesn't get misty eyed after reading that article, they may not have a heart. Thanks for sharing.


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Re: Watauga Democrat Archives: Remembering Rufus Leach

Unread post by Stonewall » Sat Jun 19, 2021 10:25 am

I still have the letter Rufus mom wrote me after his funeral. And I can still see his smile....



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