The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

April 6, 2013

ACBF HOF Series — Yo, Mick!

Zigmund had anything but a rocky career during his playing days at Jefferson

Somewhere around the eighth grade, Mickey Zigmund saw a sequence of pictures in a magazine demonstrating all of a player’s footwork in stop action up to the point that he took a jump shot.

Zigmund studied that as if it were a textbook, then went out into his garage, where his family had installed a basket, and tortuously replicated each move, time and again.

“At that time, no one taught you how to shoot the ball correctly,” Zigmund said. “At all hours of the day, I’d go out there and practicing shooting, getting the footwork down and getting the shot off.”

That diligent practice came in especially handy for Zigmund, who will be inducted into the Ashtabula County Basketball Foundation Hall of Fame on Sunday, since the small gyms at the time allowed players little space to work their magic in.

“Everyone had small gyms,” Zigmund said. “Jefferson, Perry, Rowe and Edgewood all had little gyms. It was more congested in half court. The referee would be under the basket and you could use him for screens. I’d work hard at getting to the split in the zone, worked on getting shots off my dribble. One of the best at it was (Ashtabula’s) Bob Walters.”

Zigmund lived right next to the old Jefferson High School (which became the elementary school and has since been torn down) growing up. When teams threw their old basketballs away, Zigmund and his brother, G.T., would retrieve the old balls and play with them. G.T. was four years older and wouldn’t let Mickey get a shot off.

“He was huge to me,” Mickey said. “I said to myself, ‘One day I’m going to beat him.’ I did the same thing to my son (Steve). I never let him win.”

Mickey was the second-youngest of five boys behind Larry, G.T., Ken and Charles.

When Zigmund was in the fifth grade, Dallas Ensman, the principal of the elementary school, formed a team consisting of fifth and sixth graders, something Zigmund found “awesome.” The group wound up playing only three or four games.

“He lined us up and said ‘Go shoot a basket,’ Zigmund said. “We were so bad there were no more practices.”

But Zigmund persisted, going out for the junior high team, a squad dominated by the eighth-graders, who looked upon the seventh-graders as if they were vermin.

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