KINGSTON, Tenn. (WATE) – The Kingston Yellow Jackets are back in the state tournament for the first time since 1991.
One member of the Kingston squad is marking another chapter in a family’s rich history on the court. For junior guard Colby Raymer, making it to the state tournament in basketball has become a family tradition of sorts.
He’s the fifth member of the Raymer clan to do so in the Kingston blue and orange. In the program’s eighth trip to state, he and his team are looking to do something no Raymer nor Yellow Jacket has done before: win the state championship.
Basketball means family for the Kingston Yellow Jackets.
“The separator for this group is they love each other. All they want to do is play together,” Kingston head coach Colt Narramore said.
The tight-knit group has gone on a Cinderella run this season.
“These guys have got to change some of these banners in this gym, getting the district, region championship wins and substate win. For this town, it’s been uplifting.”
Family and Kingston basketball takes on a different meaning for Colby Raymer.
The junior scored 29 points in Kingston’s win over Sullivan East in sub-state, helping the Yellow Jackets earn a bid back to state for the first time since his dad played on the 1991 team.
“They announced it after the game. I didn’t really know about it. It didn’t register with me until they told me,” Colby said.
The lineage of family state bids starts with Doug Raymer who played for the 1962 team, Gene his brother, was also on the team. Gene played for Kingston for three more years; all of which went to state. Mark Raymer played for the 1979 team that Gene was an assistant coach on, which lost in the semifinals to Knoxville Rule. Then Jamey went as a Yellow Jacket in 1991 and now, Colby.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said. Everybody got to but me so now get I little bragging rights too.”
“It’s very special,” Colby’s father Jamey said. “The night they won their sub-state game I sent him a text and said, ‘welcome to the club.’
“I was listening to it on the radio and I just said praise Jesus. It was special,” his grandfather Gene Raymer said. “We were just overly joyed for him, for the team and the community because they really love their basketball, I was really proud of him and them.”
The family’s lineage of success in navy blue and orange is fueled by their love for the sport.
“I always say our faith is first. Our family is second. Basketball is a close third. It’s close to our hearts,” Jamey Raymer said. “We would rather be in a gym than pretty much anywhere else.”
The family supporting Colby along the way as he looks to accomplish a feat that no Raymer has ever done before. His father watched happily from the bleachers on Monday, attending practice for the first time this season.
“The biggest thing is we want him to do something that we couldn’t and that’s bring that gold basketball back here. This town deserves it,” Jamey Raymer said.
“I just love watching them, they don’t give up, they don’t quit. They’ll fight to the last minute and it’s been such a blessing to watch them and I don’t want it to end so I would like to have 3 more games.”
A prospect that fuels emotions for Colby’s grandfather, who played Kingston in the state playoffs in the mid-60s.
“I just can’t wait. There were a lot of things that had to fall in line for this to happen. We’ve been really blessed.”
Colby’s grandfather stressed it wasn’t just the Raymer family that got the ’62, ’64, ’79 and other teams to state. Instead, it was the Kingston family, the community’s love of combined with talented teams. This Yellow Jackets team is no different.
This trip is extra special for the Raymer’s as Gene will be able to watch his grandson and the team play for the first time this season. After battling prostate cancer, he was cleared after his surgery to make the trip to Murfreesboro.
The Raymer’s have three more children who play basketball coming up through the Roane County school system, who will have a chance to carry on the legacy,
“It’s pretty special,” said Colby. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”