The Giving Tree and The State Champion MHS Girls Basketball Team

The MHS Girl's Basketball 2016 State Champion team shown holding both the 2015 and the 2016 State title trophies.  

The MHS Girl's Basketball 2016 State Champion team shown holding both the 2015 and the 2016 State title trophies.  

If you've been following the Morton High School Girl's Basketball Team over the past few years, you know that they've had tremendous success... 3A State Champions in 2015 and 2016, and, at this writing, just 2 wins away from possibly ANOTHER State Title in 2017.  

Since 2010, award winning sports writer, Dave Kindred has chronicled the MHS Girl's Basketball Team, and has written 2 books about the team.  The book, "True Grit", by Dave Kindred, tells the story of the road to the 2016 Illinois 3A Girl's High School State Championship, and it features a photo of the team in front of the Giving Tree (just outside of the offices of the Morton Community Foundation).  I love what Dave Kindred wrote about the Giving Tree.  He sure has a way with words...

...the tree was as beautiful in concept as in creation.

"On first sight, the tree is unforgettable. It shimmers in the sun. Its leaves become mirrors. It redirects a day’s light in all directions. To see it for the first time is to imagine it is fashioned of silver, maybe even of mercury, for its shape is always changing. Only when I stopped on Jefferson Street one day and walked up to the tree did I learn the tree was as beautiful in concept as in creation. It is on the grounds – in a garden, really – of the Morton Community Foundation. It is called the Giving Tree.

The winning coaching staff. L to R:  Megan Hasler, Head Freshman Coach; Bill Davis, Head Junior Varsity Coach; Bob Becker, Head Varsity Coach; Brooke Bisping, Assistant Coach.

The winning coaching staff. L to R:  Megan Hasler, Head Freshman Coach; Bill Davis, Head Junior Varsity Coach; Bob Becker, Head Varsity Coach; Brooke Bisping, Assistant Coach.

Each leaf on the tree’s branches carries the name of a donor to the Foundation. The tree was dedicated on September 4, 2014. In its mission statement, the Foundation’s executive director, Scott Witzig, declared, “Someone planted a tree so we can enjoy its shade. That is the idea behind the Giving Tree Garden and sculpture . . .  Throughout our community there are examples of projects and ideas that were planted, watered, and were given time to mature and grow. The leaders that cultivated these ideas knew they may never benefit directly from what they started. They had a vision and a dream and acted on it. They were thinking and planning for the future, for people that would live in Morton in years to come.. The Giving Tree Garden honors this idea by recognizing our many funds, and people that have donated financially to the Morton Community Foundation . . . Look around Morton and you will find other examples of trees that were planted for the future – McClallen Park, Freedom Hall, The Bertha Frank Performing Arts Center, the Morton Public Library, the Morton Pool, Idlewood Arts Pavilion and the Morton Pumpkin Festival.”

The Giving Tree Garden is another of the gifts made possible by donors caring for Morton’s future. Sculptor Morgan Elser, of Delavan, was commissioned to transform the village’s vision into an artist’s reality.  The day I walked up to the tree, I saw that Mrs. Elser's vision of community was, in a very real way, a coach's vision of a team.  The tree's trunk was not a single piece of metal.  It was a swirl of metal as if a dozen small trees had grown together, wrapping around one another, intertwined, none strong enough alone to lift the tree's shimmering branches but together strong enough to raise those branches and more.

It seemed perfect, then, to bring the Lady Potters to the Giving Tree.  Don Pyles, Morton's photographer-about-town, did the cover shoot.  We brought together the state championship team, and, in a bow to the Giving Tree's concept of caring for the future, we invited in the young girls from the Morton Heat program." 

If you're interested in a copy of one or both of Dave Kindred's books about the MHS Girl's Basketball team, you may purchase one for $10 at Eli's Coffee Shop, or online by PayPal by clicking HERE, or by check by mailing $14 to Dave Kindred, 288 MacAllen Lake Road, Carlock, IL 61725. Please allow $1 extra for each additional book for shipping.