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ArlingtonSportsW-L basketball team to open season mourning lost senior

W-L basketball team to open season mourning lost senior

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A basketball season with much anticipation, promise and excitement for the Washington-Liberty Generals took a different turn to become a campaign with added incentive and purpose following a recent tragic traffic accident.

That drunk-driving accident took the life of returning Washington-Liberty Generals senior point guard Braylon Meade, one of the most popular and well-liked players among his boys high-school teammates. The under-age driver of the other vehicle has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and involuntary manslaughter.

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The Generals have now have vowed to play and dedicate the season in his memory.

The Generals season began this week with a pregame ceremony scheduled in Meade’s memory prior to the Nov. 29 season opener at W-L.

Meade’s No. 22 jersey will be draped over a chair on the W-L bench during games next to head coach Bobby Dobson for the entire season. The team will have warmup jerseys with patches that include Meade’s uniform number.

Meade again was planning to head the handshake and greeting among teammates during player introductions. He had perfected the different greeting routines with each starter.

“He was a born leader,” Dobson said.

Now, there will be no player taking his place. Instead, the Generals will honor Meade by doing air hand slaps or handshakes at the same spot on the court where Meade normally would have been for those intros.

“Braylon was such a natural leader and by far had the most energy of anyone on the team, and he was the hardest worker and most prepared,” said W-L senior starting guard James McIntyre, who was Meade’s closest friend. “He recognized the potential in all of his teammates and pushed us hard to get better. Everyone respected him, and we will miss him so much.”

The Generals also will miss Meade during competition, and not just for his positive cheering and encouragement from the bench. He was expected to be a valuable contributor on the court this season.

Returning starting forward Brian Weiser said Meade had worked harder than any to earn playing time.

“His work ethic and discipline were contagious to the rest of us,” Weiser said. “He would call me at 10 at night to go shoot around after I already was in bed. He got to know the school custodian, who would let us into the gym. Then he’d want to go work out early in the morning, too. He pushed everybody a lot. I don’t know how he did it all. I couldn’t keep up with him.”

McIntyre and others had similar stories about Meade.

Christy McIntyre is one of the top team parent volunteers, who knew Meade well.

“Braylon equally was as driven in his education as he was for basketball,” she said. “He was such a good influence on James and the other players. He always was so happy, driven, and a role model, and like the Energizer bunny.”

Dobson said no other W-L player will ever wear the No. 22, at least as long as he is the head coach. When W-L players break team huddles this season the saying will be: “One, two, three four, family; followed by, four, five, six, number 22.”

“We will play for him and I will coach for him, and I know he will be watching,” Dobson said. “Braylon made me a better coach. He worked so hard I wanted to give back so much to him. This was going to be his year.”

Christy McIntyre remembers a couple of times when Braylon thrived, kept his composure in a tense and stressful situation with hostile fans and opponents rooting against the AAU team he played on, but he calmly made four clutch free throws.

 “Classic Braylon,” she said. “He loved when other kids got rattled but always stayed in control of his emotions. He was the ultimate competitor.”

 With as many as five returning starters, Washington-Liberty is expected to be a top team and contender in the Liberty District and 6D North Region again this season.

The Generals were 18-8 last season, winning the district tournament as the top seed, finishing second in the 6D North Region tourney, then 0-1 in the Class 6 state tourney, losing to champion and undefeated Hayfield just 59-51.

Dobson said this season’s Generals are a close group that has been made even tighter by Meade and his memory.

“If you can get any tighter as a group, yes, we are, and Braylon made us that way,” Dobson said.

NOTE: A scholarship fund is being established in Meade’s name with the help of the Arlington Community Foundation.

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