As the white and green clad Haines Glacier Bears basketball teams battled on the court over the weekend, there was one uniform hanging high above them in the rafters. From now on, number 42 – worn by former Glacier Bear Kyle Fossman – will watch over the court.
Haines has had several standout athletes over the years, like basketball player Sarah Swinton and long distance runner Carl Blackhurst, who are in the state high school sports hall of fame. But 2010 graduate Kyle Fossman is the first Haines player to have his jersey retired, and one of only five in the state to receive the honor.
It’s a practice Mark McNamara would like to see take hold in Haines. McNamara, a former NBA player, is one of Fossman’s mentors and hosted the Saturday evening ceremony between games in the Karl Ward Gym. He said honoring athletes isn’t just an individual honor; it can also inspire current and future athletes.
“This isn’t just for them. It’s for the kids who are here now – to aspire to greatness to celebrate the pride of what our school has done in the past.”
McNamara recognized Fossman’s coaches – who are also Kyle’s parents. Steve and Ann Fossman continue coaching the boys Glacier Bear basketball team.
“Steve and Ann Fossman didn’t just help Kyle,” McNamara said. “They helped an amazing amount of kids. It wasn’t just athletically. They’ve helped kids stay in school. In my opinion they’ve helped several kids throughout the year stay alive. So, when you give them a round of applause, it’s not just for them. I want you to give a round of applause for all the coaches that are here now.”
McNamara listed as many as Fossman’s honors as he had time for on Saturday – his points and tenacity on the court, leading the Glacier Bears to two state championships, being valedictorian of his class, his full ride scholarship to University of Alaska Anchorage. There, his accolades continued to mount with his shooting record.
Last fall, shortly after his wedding in Haines, Fossman signed with a professional team in Germany. That’s why he wasn’t at Saturday’s presentation, but he sent a note, read by McNamara, thanking his parents, mentors and community.
“Every game I played in my post-high school career I see as a chance to represent Haines,” Fossman said. “Haines is my home and I will forever be a Glacier Bear.”
The school has both the home and away jerseys worn by Fossman during his years at Haines High School from 2006 to 2010. One jersey is framed in the high school trophy case. The other was presented to Kyle’s sister, Penny, on Saturday. Then, with a countdown from the packed gym, number 42 was unfurled from rafters to the same applause and school song that often accompanied Kyle on the court.