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Lisman started her Hall of Fame coaching career in Greene County

Posted Wednesday, July 13, 2011, at 1:25 PM

Dru Lisman (second from left) waits at the end of the line during the state finals awards ceremony during halftime of the 1982 girls basketball title game. Lisman and her Sullivan Lady Arrows lost to eventual state champion Heritage in the semifinals earlier in the day.(Courtesy Sullivan Daily Times).
Dru Lisman is best known for her coaching success at her alma mater -- Sullivan High School. But she actually started her Hall of Fame coaching career in Greene County.

"I graduated from Sullivan in 1969 and Indiana State University in 1973," said Lisman, who earlier this year was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle. "I taught summer school in 1973 at Linton before getting a job teaching and coaching at L & M in 1973-74.

"I stayed at L & M through the 1976-77 school year."

Dru Bock, as she was known then, along with assistant coaches Emily Johnson and Tawni Jeffers, guided players Janell Davidson, Patty McCammon, Linda Hiatt, Tina Mowery, Tambi Cooksey, Lynn Mowery, Jo Corns, Gerri Corns, Karen McIntosh, Judy Banister, Sherri Clifford and Dee McKee to a volleyball sectional championship in 1974. It was the first of four such titles for L & M before consolidating into White River Valley in 1990.

The Lady Braves, who finished with a 12-5 record including a loss to Evansville Mater Dei at the Washington Regional, defeated Union (Dugger) 8-15, 15-2, 15-9 on Nov. 5, 1974 and Worthington 15-9, 15-11 and Bloomfield 15-7, 8-15, 15-10 on Thursday, Nov. 7, 1974 to capture the L & M Sectional championship.

"I coached volleyball, softball and basketball at L & M," said Lisman, who retired from Sullivan as a teacher and girls athletic director in 2009 and now lives in Indianapolis. "When you were starting out, you had to do it all.

"To be honest, I don't remember a lot of details about that team. I have a hard time remembering what I did last week, let alone 1974. But I know it was a big thrill for the girls and myself. Girls state tournaments were a pretty new thing back then."

Lisman took her talents to Sullivan in 1977-78, and the rest as they say is history. In her eight seasons at girls basketball coach at her alma mater, she posted a 135-23 record. Other than the first season, she won a girls basketball sectional every year she coached at SHS (1979-85, seven in a row). She added an eight sectional title in 1989 when she took over in January when then coach Bob Coffey left school at Christmas break.

"Sullivan is where I really wanted to be. It was home," said Lisman, who lettered in basketball, field hockey, and golf as a student at Indiana State University and is a five-time winner of the Terre Haute women's golf championship. "When I found out that Ellen Gross was retiring, I applied and was lucky the school board and superintendent wanted me."

Lisman, who also coached track and junior high boys golf in her career, never had a losing record as girls coach at SHS. Her non-sectional title team went 5-5 and then the 1979 sectional championship team went 15-3, and the Lady Arrows were on their way.

That 1979 was the first girls athletic team at Sullivan to win a postseason tournament.

"There was talent in the program from the beginning," said Lisman, who also won three Western Indiana Conference championships at Sullivan. "We only had a 5-5 record that first year, but it was a good starting point.

"I don't remember a lot of numbers, but I know we won 15 of 18 games that second year. It turned out to be a pretty quick transition. But you can do that when you have talent."

Seniors Paula Townsend, Sherri Jett and Sue McKinley along with sophomore Julie Rotramel and freshman Maria Stockberger were the starters on the 1981-82 team that advanced to the Final Four before losing to Heritage at Market Square Arena in the state semifinals.

Cherie LeDune, Kelli Lawhorn, Karen Crooks, Carrie Page, Stephanie Lampton and Cindy Fischer rounded out the varsity roster. Karen Noble was her assistant coach.

"That group did not have open gyms, weight lifting or AAU," said Lisman. "They did everything on their own.

"They played pick-up games at the park against the boys. That made them tougher and more competitive. That was before summer workouts or preseason conditioning. They made sure they came into the season in shape and ready to play. That was a very special group. Those girls did not want to lose. I was very lucky. They made my job easier."

That 1982 team is the only one in the history of girls basketball at Sullivan High School to win a regional, defeating Bloomfield and Bedford North Lawrence to win the Washington Regional. They beat Austin and Evansville Bosse to win the BNL Semistate.

"Some people might not remember but we had lost in the regional championship games in 1979, 1980 and 1981," said Lisman. "That team just refused to lose.

"Everybody said just getting to state should have been enough. But those girls were devastated after losing to Heritage, who went on to win the state title."

Before her mini-comeback in 1989, Lisman retired from coaching in 1985, after winning six straight sectional titles.

"I had just had Lindsey in February," Lisman said of her daughter. "I then had three kids and just could not take care of the kids and coach.

"I didn't want to give up coaching, but I sacrificed for my kids. They were the most important part of my life."

Lisman joined Cindy (Beesley) Aguirre {Western Boone 1978}; Jane Emkes {Seymour 1979}; Fred Fields {Muncie South 1969}; Janice McCracken-O'Brien {Vincennes Lincoln 1977}; Kyle O'Brien Stevens {North Central (Indianapolis) 1976}; Laura Newcomb Titus {Rochester 1977}; Carol Tumey {Leavenworth 1959}; Debra Walker-Augurson {South Bend LaSalle 1980}; and Jodie Whitaker {Austin 1985} in the 10th Women's Hall of Fame Class that was inducted on April 30.

"I was shocked and pleasantly surprised when I was notified," said Lisman, who added that a regular season game at the Downtown Gym in Sullivan against Evansville Bosse when both were ranked in the Top 10 as being one of her other most memorable moments on the sidelines. "You never really think about something like this happening.

"The personalities of that 1982 team just clicked. They couldn't have cared less who scored. It was all about winning. They gave 100 percent all the time, in games and in practice. The girls off the bench went against the starters every day in practice. I knew I could put them in and not lose anything. That would be a great all around ball club today. Those girls and all of the girls that played for me is the reason I am in the Hall of Fame."

B.J. Hargis is the sports editor at the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached at (812) 847-4487, ext. 12 or at hargisbj@gmail.com.

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B.J. Hargis
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