We talked to Sam Gause while searching Madison Street last Friday for Cubs fans to interview for this week’s cover story. In addition to telling us his thoughts on the Cubs, Gause, who described himself as a fan of all Chicago sports, shared his memories of what it was like growing up as a budding athlete on the West Side.

I grew up playing basketball, baseball, softball, football. We played everything. I went to Howe Grammar School, where I played basketball. Then I went to Prosser Vocational and started at point guard and wide receiver. 

The basketball circuit, when I was a young teenager, was really important in teaching us how to work with each other and things of that nature. It was really important.

I was on a team called the Court Masters and my coach was Henry Cotton. There was also a team from the Emmet School area called the Wolf Park and we always played against each other in different tournaments. 

I had a chance to be part of a city championship team called the Columbus Park All-Stars. It was the best players from each team in this tournament and we played other teams from different parks throughout the Chicago Park District. 

I was 13 years old and started at point guard. We got the trophies and the jackets and the game was televised. That was a pretty big deal for a 13-year-old.

I think what made it work was the involvement of the adults in the park district system. The men volunteered their time to put these teams together and had them playing around the city in front of packed stands.