Principal Phil Utterback asked if I could coach the 5th and 6th grade basketball teams while Jim Stultz was on a medical leave. I agreed. Each team had lots of players which made practicing and games challenging. However, we all grew together, and both teams ended up having respectable seasons. It was my first time for going down under to the locker room, another one of those special characteristics of the old gym. Believe it or not, I still have the roosters of each team, the warm-up drills, and the plays. The sixth grade team members were: John Sigman, Charles Crouse, Danny Bragg, Travis Glick, Tim Lewis, Mike Ketner, John Pate, Rob Elliot, Rob Endicott, Phillip Burton, Eric Miller, Bobby Waddle, John Shaw, Mike Nading, Scott Beaman, Doug Smith, Ravanna Fraizer-Bay, Doug Meek, and David Law. The fifth grade team members were: Brad Johnson, Eric Ellison, Todd Beaman, Kyle Keller, Jimmy Baker, Danny Ault, Danny Artist, Bill Johnson, Steve Willis, Kelly Stephenson, Gary Glick, Tony Mee, Steve McKinney, Wally Miller, Dallas McKinney, and Robert Logsdon.

I recall often being asked to play donkey basketball, sponsored by the Hauser FFA, while seemingly always getting the most stubborn donkey and the one needing to use the bathroom on the gym floor. As the rider, I was responsible for cleaning up afterward! I don't recall ever scoring a basket with the donkey's master always making sure I couldn't get an easy shot even if my donkey was cooperative.

Candy Taff Carr strongly felt there should be 5th and 6th grade basketball for girls as well as boys. Consequently, 1981 was the first time. The sixth grade team members were: Terri Beeker, Melanie Stone, Beth Ross, Stephanie Seright, Melissa Williams, Susan Nugent, Adora Hare, Jamie Goodchild, and Jenny Matlock. The fifth grade team members were: Sonja Wilson, Amber Connelly, Nicky Janes, Giovanna Gearhart, Racquel Moss, Jackie Woodhouse, Jennifer Seim, Sandy Embry, Lisa Ray, Shelley Dykes, Amy Broady, Jan Chandler, Lisa Anderson, Theresa Mayes, Heather Herron, Mika Henderson and Sherri Odiorne. It was a great opportunity for the girls and was a key in the development of the overall program.

Candy also thought that Hope area women would enjoy a volleyball league. Candy and Susan Finke Scott, Hauser English and Latin teacher and volleyball referee, organized and led a volleyball clinic. They asked me and a few others to assist them in presenting volleyball skills, and the clinic was well attended. A women's league soon formed, and the first team to win had the following players: Susan Hoover Thompson, Linda DeClue, Dana Herron Mote DeBaun, Susan Thayer Fye, Anne Canright, wife of former Hauser teacher and coach, Tom Canright, who won a Tennis Sectional Championship, Gerogia Frady. Candy, and Susan. (I fondly recall the matches featuring the Hope staff and the Cross Cliff staff even though we did not have the best of equipment.)

Chuck Caldwell, former student, Hauser graduate, and former President of FOCUS (Focus On Community, Unity, and Service), mentioned Dennis Schulz and Mark Thayer being very responsible for the name and large attempts to preserve the gym. He also remembered Alan Smith, Bob Mayes, and Hope Lowell as being wonderful help while serving on the committee before being renamed Community Center.

They brought back donkey basketball and even tried wrestling to raise funds for the upkeep of the gym. The first wrestling group, an amateur organization, came out of Indianapolis while the last one had major ties to the professional circuit starring “The Beast,” Brock Lesner, and “The Big Show,” Paul Wight. Chuck stressed the importance of his family volunteering as well as the family from Ashbrook Food Mart: Shirley, Paul, Carol, Bobby, and Jill. They would provide concessions at a reasonable price and then sell them while Paul would do his witty announcing. Scott Michaels, WKKG, was a natural in promoting the events in and out of the ring. (Steve Bragg, former student and Hauser graduate, had ambitions of becoming a professional wrestler. Boxing was never offered even though I recall watching Corky Lonaker, a former student and Hauser graduate, perform at other local places and being excellent at the sport before ending his career. Corky even took time out to visit my class.)

The Caldwell family was also very involved in establishing co-ed volleyball recreational and competitive leagues and in playing the sport during Chuck's time with FOCUS, around six years. I played in several of those leagues and observed the Caldwells working hard to get two horizontal nets across the gym. The bleachers on each side provided the end line. In other words, there was not much room to chase stray balls. One of my favorite teams was the one with my older daughter, Bethany, and her friends, who were in junior high then, and with some of my friends, both former students. Mike and Katie Brown, Russell Burton and Jessie Jones. We were very competitive and very much enjoyed our matches with the Caldwells. It was one of those experiences every dad and daughter cherishes. (Later, I had the opportunity to play in a league at Ceraland with both of my daughters, Haley and Bethany.)

There was a basketball tourney which I put together a team of former Jennings County players, including Danny Brown, who played for the University of Louisville and who has coached varsity girls at Columbus East for years. There were several extremely competitive teams, including from Hope. We competed against a team with Mike Percifield, Hauser teacher and coach, and Tom Workman, former Hauser player. We wanted to get up and down the court, but Mike and Tom very much tried to control the game tempo. We didn't win the tourney but had lots of fun and rested at my mobile home at Nading's between games, a home I eventually sold to a former student, Roxanne Sigman Loyd.

Several years ago, I wrote an article about the 65-66 team, the last Hauser team to play in the gym. (Information was located at the Hope Library, a wonderful place with old Hope newspapers. Lots of information can be found about the 44-45 Hope Red Devils too, a great team that won the Shelbyville Sectional and Shelbyville Regional with Indiana All-Star Bill Shepherd leading the way.) The head coach of the 65-66 team was Brad Mitchell who was assisted by the legendary Bob Miller. The following players were on the varsity as the season started: Seniors Herb Boilanger, Ed Dailey, Tom Marlin, John Trimnell, and Butch Turner; Juniors Jim Anderson, Don Mankin, Dave Phares, and Wayne Thompson; Sophomore Steve Rominger. Student managers were John Beck and Steve Coffman. The cheerleaders were Teresa Herron, Linda Smith, Amy McKee, and Sissy McKee. They had an unbelievable year and support with a large band of 61 members and full cheer block with 106 members. They finished 17-4 and won the last game against Waldron in the old gym with the final score of 103-56 even though the scoreboard could only go to 99. The gym was packed, so packed that getting to the water fountain was difficult according to Ed Dailey. (Over half of the schools on the 65-66 schedule are no longer in existence reminding me once again how fortunate we are in this community to still have Hauser!)

When calling Jean Flora Glick to ask more questions about the book “Holy Smokes,” she was sitting in the darkness due to electricity being off after strong winds went through the area. Jean had flashbacks of the old gym: cheering, proms, and plays. In the play “Kissin' Cousins,” she was embarrassed about kissing in her role. (One of Jean's co-actors was John Glick, her future husband of 54 years!) She will never forget the wedding reception for her daughter, Kathy Glick Hayes, Hauser graduate, and Mike Hayes. Jean recalls dancing with her grandson, Ryan Ferguson, one of my former students and Hauser graduate, and thought of how it was good to be among adults dancing on one end of the gym while children were playing basketball and other games on the other. During our conversation, I was just thinking about all of the memorable events in that gym over the years including multiple basketball practices and games.

Before the fire, there was hope to put new life in the old and historic gym. When writing an article related to losing another community gym, Burney's Barn, I mentioned the cause of restoring the old Hope gym. I, as well as others, donated toward the project. It did not happen for a variety of reasons even though I know many people exerted lots of time and effort.

Tim McNamee, Hauser graduate and CEO and President of Blue Tassel Farms, a wonderful not-for-profit organization on a farm that focuses on providing a safe haven for inner city young people and others, has a dream of some day replicating the Burney barn and gym. Perhaps, as long as there are bricks still standing for the old gym, there is still hope. No matter what, the memories of the old Hope gym will undoubtedly live for a very long time.

Before closing this three part series with the ending of a poem that Mike Asher gave me after finding it in the stage office, I must express my sincere gratitude to all of those school board members, superintendents, principals, teachers, teacher assistants, parents, students, secretaries, custodians, cooks, and bus drivers that I worked with for a span of thirty-six years in the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corporation. I was constantly surrounded by giving and caring individuals who strove to make a positive difference in our schools and our community. When Charlie Biggs took me as well as other new teachers on a drive through the community in 1974, I did not quite grasp his passion for Hope. But I certainly have a fuller understanding now!

DON”T QUIT! … The Hardest Battle of Life is the Battle Against Ourselves by A Winner

“Success is failure turned inside out-
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close your are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,-
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit."