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in Here is your first Forum Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:50 am
by lluggg630 • 6 Posts

Gary athletics struggling as Lew Wallace's fate hangs in the balance

GARY A cold April wind whipped out of the north last week. Surely the waters of Lake Michigan were chopping harshly 25 blocks away.

Ron Heflin and Benny Dorsey felt the chill in their bones. An all consuming sadness enveloped the Hall of Fame coaches as they walked around the now Roosevelt College Career Academy.

"The pride is gone," said Dorsey, a 1954 Gary Roosevelt grad and longtime Panthers coach in basketball and baseball. Dorsey coached three major leaguers in Joe Gates, Wallace Johnson and Lloyd McClendon.

"You can't give up hope," Robert Mathis Jersey said Heflin, a '58 'Velt grad and coach of the 1991 state championship team at the school. "But this is hard. It's sad."

Roosevelt wasn't just the pride of Gary in a bygone era. But also Indiana and America.

George Taliaferro, the first black man drafted in the NFL, went to Roosevelt. Lee Calhoun, a two time Olympic gold medalist, did, too. As did Chuck Adkins, who won Olympic boxing gold. Dick Barnett played 14 seasons in the NBA and won titles with the Knicks.

Glenn Robinson was Indiana's Mr. Basketball in 1991.

"Times change," Heflin said. "This place isn't what it once was."In 2011 12, the state handed control of Roosevelt to New York based EdisonLearningbecause of poor test scores. Initially athletics were going to be cut, but they survived, barely.

In the 2012 13 school year, Roosevelt had four athletic directors. The girls basketball team did not enter the IHSAA state tournament. It did not register online like the Trent Richardson Womens Jersey 399 other schools did. The state association tried multiple times to contact Roosevelt, but to no avail.

Now, Lew WallaceScience Academyis facing similar doubts as the Gary Community School Corp.'s budget deficit has left the schoolon the chopping block.

Wallace only played six games last season. Previously, Wallace won 21 Northwestern Conference championships and remains the only Gary football school to win a sectional championship in 1989.

With the Hornets' situation in limbo, West Side's football program picked up South Bend Washington instead of playing its city rival.

"As far as I know (Lew Wallace) is still going to have football," Gary schools spokeswoman Sarita www.coltsonlineprostore.com/WOMENS-ANDREW-LUCK-JERSEY.html Stevens said. But she confirmed that a final decision on whether Wallace would be a school next school year has not yet been determined.

"I hope so," Lew Wallace football coach Al Williams said when asked if his Hornets would have a football team next school year. "I'm the wrong person to ask. But I'm hoping so."

If coltsonlineprostore.com/WOMENS-PAT-MCAFEE-JERSEY.html Wallace is closed, West Side would be the only high school with an athletic program still controlled by the district. That could bring a lot of talent into T.Y. Hilton Limited Jersey one school.

Jason Johnson coached West Side to a historic season in football last fall. Central 46 44 in an instant classic.

Nine players from the program got college scholarships.

But in all this glory there was also a Gary like flat tire. The IHSAA took two home playoff games away from the school because the facilities were deemed unplayable.

The Gary school board spent $20,000 to purchase new goal posts, new 25 second clocks and to ensure two light banks that had faltered during the regular season were ready. This was all done at the end of the regular season.

"You can't make up for 15 years of neglect in two weeks," IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Robert Faulkens said after inspecting the grounds.

A sad decline

Johnson was a standout at West Side before playing in the NFL. What he's seen in his life has been unthinkable. The feeder programs for Gary youth are no longer around.

Johnson would like to see club sports, in all sports, taught at the elementary schools in the city. He believes athletics are a great way to keep young students off the streets and out of crime.

"What our kids did last year was amazing," Johnson said. "We had our issues but we made it to a sectional championship game and it seemed like half the city was there. That was great for our kids and great for our community.

"We have to put the things in place to give our children an opportunity."

Angela Hamblin was at the football game last fall. She was a mega star at Lew Wallace before becoming an All American at Iowa and a WNBA player. She returned to coach at her alma mater in 2005.

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