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East Hall bringing back the legends for basketball alumni games at Valhalla
A celebration of East Hall's past and future
East Hall Basketball 2005
Members of the East Hall High basketball team of 2005 prepare to celebrate winning the Class 2A state title at the Macon Coliseum. - photo by Scott Rogers

The games are as follows:

  • Game 1: Girls alumni vs. current East Hall girls, 6 p.m.
  • Game 2: Old timers boys alumni (1964-2000), 7 p.m.
  • Game 3: 2001 and 2003 state championship teams vs. 2005 state championship team, 8 p.m.
  • Game 4: East Hall alumni vs. current East Hall varsity, 9 p.m.

Four alumni basketball games next week mark the first peek into Seth Vining second tenure with East Hall High basketball, along with reenactments of the program’s past — all on the legendary coach’s birthday.

East Hall players from as far back as 1964 are expected to join in on the festivities, either as an athlete or coach. 

“Our (current) coaches will coach the high school team,” Vining said. “We will let the alumni coach themselves.” 

Scheming against his old players tops off what is expected to be a jovial evening.

The celebration of Seth Vining and the history of East Hall basketball begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 16 at the East Hall gymnasium. 

Alumni are encouraged to practice beforehand at the East Hall gymnasium from 6-9 p.m. on Monday. 

The idea originated out of jest. Vining saw Blake Vandiver, his former player from the 2001 state championship team, while eating out one night. Vandiver had congratulated his formerly retired coach on returning to coach the Vikings once more. The spry soon-to-be 68 year-old then asked if he’s ready for the alumni games — 18 years removed from the championship.

The spur-of-the-moment question held very little weight at the time. Vining reflected on that conversation a few days later and realized his amusement uncovered a golden egg. 

East Hall basketball needed a fundraiser. His first idea — a basketball tournament — fell through earlier in the summer. The veteran coach who boasts more than 700 games of experience remembered the success of Lakeview Academy’s alumni games during his tenure. Having the date fall on his birthday just brought the event full circle.

Fun is the first aim — for the (former) athletes and fans. 

But for Vining, the occasion helps make up for lost time. 

“I’m just looking forward to seeing the people I haven’t seen in a while and connecting with them again,” he said. “That was part of my problem. I had lost contact with a lot of these players, so I need to make sure I get phone numbers and email addresses from everybody so I can stay in contact. 

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since I was there before. Just over a course of time, you lose contact with people.”

Brody Langston was one of the first former players Vining contacted when considering the return to coaching. To Vining, recruiting a dynamic and athletic coaching staff had to include the 2003 and 2005 state championship team member. Langston couldn’t say ‘yes’ fast enough. 

“He’s someone I’d love to learn under,” Langston said. “We had some great times and historic moments, so I’m just elated and extremely excited to learn from him. And bring back that East Hall alumni.”

Langston is set to participate in Game 3 of the alumni games as a member of the 2005 state championship team. He never thought he’d be older. Maybe the games will act as an hour-long time machine, away from their current reality — back to the days of championship trophies, deep rosters and aggressive, one-on-one practices. 

Nostalgia will, inevitably, be one of the day’s major fixtures. Langston recalls the crazy section of the stands. “The greatest fans around” resided there. 

“I’m curious to see some of the parents and some of the fans who used to follow us back in the day,” he said. “I’m curious to see if they’re going to sit in the same seats they used to back when we played.”

If not, he will picture them in his head as motivation. 

Field goals should come just as easy for Langston and the rest of the alumni, right?

What is guaranteed?

“There’s going to be a lot of trash talking,” Langston said. “And fun.”

East Hall girls basketball 2015
East Hall's Carly Winters passes an Oconee County defender for a layup during a 2015 state playoff game in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers
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