Laurie Simkins knows quite a man.
He starred as Growly Bear, served as guest star of every neighborhood pick-up game played with ball, bat or imaginary monster and patiently tried to teach volleyball to a girl with plenty of interest but precious little athletic ability.
Harley Knosher was â€” and still is â€” the flame that drew children like moths. Some knew him as a swim coach at Lake Rice, others as a golf coach, basketball coach or Knox Collegeâ€™s athletic director for 32 years.
To Laurie, Knosher is simply Dad.
The 45-year-old recalled growing up with one of Galesburgâ€™s most revered coaches Tuesday afternoon while she hung uniform pants in the new retail storefront at Go Van Goghâ€™s: The T-shirt Factory.
â€œWhen I think of my dad, I think of the neighborhood games he played with us after he got home from work,â€ Laurie said. â€œWe played a game called Growly Bear Around the House. Of course, he played the Growly Bear. He shuffled around the house in the dark growling and we all ran around screaming.
â€œHe always played the neighborhood games with us. I think a lot of kids might remember him from that.â€