Lorah closes her book on scorekeeping career

By on March 23, 2016
Beth Lorah was the official scorekeeper for the Cocalico High School boys basketball team for the past decade. Photo by Dick Wanner

Beth Lorah was the official scorekeeper for the Cocalico High School boys basketball team for the past
decade. Photo by Dick Wanner

If you could look at Beth Lorah’s heart, you would see a tiny little imprint of a basketball sneaker. It first appeared 10 years ago, when her cousin and very good friend, Travis Wealand, asked her to take over the scorekeeping chores for the Cocalico High School basketball team.

Lorah had followed Wealand’s basketball career through his playing days at Ephrata High School and then at Bloomsburg University. When he got the Cocalico head coaching job, she said she was honored at his invitation to run the scorebook. She figured she’d go to games, tote up the scores and go home and relax.

Well, she went, she toted but there were many nights she did not relax. She watched the recorded games from Channel 11. She replayed games and plays in her head. Oh! What if we’d sunk that three? What if we’d made that pass? What if we’d blocked that shot? Did the ref really call that? Did the ref NOT call THAT?

Really? No way.

Adrenalin that didn’t stop was one thing she didn’t expect. The other thing, the bigger thing, was the depth, breadth and duration of the relationships she developed with players, coaches and parents.

“Perry and I don’t have kids,” she said, “so when we first meet someone and they ask us how many kids we have, we might say 18 or 21 – it depends on the season and how many kids are on the team. We have a little fun with it.”

Perry Lorah, her husband of 26 years, has seen more high school basketball in the last 10 years than he ever thought he’d see in his lifetime, Beth said. He became an enthusiastic Cocalico fan, and a big supporter of Beth’s role as team mom, baker and scorekeeper. As team baker, she’s spent many late nights in the kitchen on the nights before away games. She made sure to have a treat prepared for the players, coaches and managers on the bus rides home. Perry helped her in the kitchen even if he’d had a late meeting as a member of Akron’s borough council.

Beth played high school basketball for Ephrata, as did her sisters, Robin, Sharon and Deana. After high school, the sisters played together in a Lancaster league. It’s definitely a basketball sisterhood, and Lorah’s knowledge of the game has proved useful in keeping track of the scores for both the home and the visiting teams.

Both teams?

“Yes. The other team has a scorekeeper also. At the end of the game the books have to match,” she said.

One would think that keeping score means never missing a thing on the court. Wrong.

“When I’m watching the games back on Channel 11, I’ll think I didn’t see something happen,” she said. “I get so intent on watching the officials that I don’t see what goes on after the team scores a point, or when they’re celebrating at the end of a game and I’m just adding everything up.”

Sometimes knowing the rules can get you in a fix. Lorah recalled the night an opposing team had six players on the court. She tried to get an official’s attention to tell him about the mistake, but one of Cocalico’s assistant coaches intervened. And then she realized that if the sixth player didn’t step off the court, the team would be charged with a technical foul. Which they were.

One rule she has spoken up about is the rule that says the scoring table has to be a neutral zone. Scorekeepers and timekeepers may think what they want to think about the players, coaches and officials on the court, but they need to keep their thoughts to themselves.

“I remember a game where the timekeeper was making disparaging remarks about one of our players,” Lorah said. “I asked her if she knew if that could have been my son or my nephew, and did she think it was appropriate to be talking that way about that particular high school player.”

Asked if she remembered any particular high points in her scorekeeping career, Lorah said, “You might think it was our trip to the Giant Center this season. But that wasn’t it. The real high point was the relationships. That part changed Perry’s and my lives forever.”

Any low points? She replied in a very, very low whisper. “I hated the jersey.”

For the past few years, the Lancaster-Lebanon League has required home team scorekeepers to wear black-and-white striped jerseys.

They’re uncomfortable, according to Beth Lorah, “…and they make you stand out. I don’t like to stand out.”

Whether in a jersey or street clothes, it was apparent to any regular CHS basketball fan that Beth Lorah did stand out. From the fist bumps with the starters before each game began, to the long strings of raffle tickets she bought each time there was a team basketball to be won, to treats on the bus, she stood out.

When Coach Wealand decided to leave the coaching arena after this past season, Lorah decided it was time for her, too, to close the scorebook for good. She’ll attend some Cocalico events as a spectator, able at last to cheer away for her team. But she said she will miss her spot at the scoring table.

Does she think that sneaker imprint on her heart will ever fade away, or maybe disappear altogether?

Not a chance. Speaking with a great deal of difficulty, the scorekeeper-baker-mom said, “I would claim each and every one of those players as my own. I really would. My biggest hope is that each of the kids know that I care about them way beyond basketball.”

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