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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Callane reflects on Hall of Fame career

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Jim Callane
After an illustrious career as a player, coach, teacher and athletic director, Jim Callane became an active member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle.

It was there in October 2007 at a board meeting when Callane received stunning news.

"They were announcing the candidates for the class of 2008 and I was sitting next to Ray Pavy (former New Castle and Indiana University standout)," said Callane, a native of Rushville who won three sectionals in his five seasons as coach at Linton-Stockton in the 1970s. "He elbowed me like he knew something. Right after they announced Junior Bridgeman, my name came up. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. People were patting me on the back. It was almost too hard to believe. Junior Bridgeman played on that undefeated state championship team at East Chicago Washington and then played at Louisville and was a mainstay with the Milwaukee Bucks for about 15 years. John Coalman of South Bend Central won a state championship and was Mr. Basketball. Jim Price played for Denny Crum at Louisville and played several years in the NBA. You must be kidding. It's hard to think that I belong with that group."

Former Linton-Stockton boys basketball coach Jim Callane is pictured during his coaching days. He was inducted into the Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame last year.
(Photo courtesy of The Indiana High School Basketball Hall of Fame) [Order this photo]
Callane, who now serves as secretary on the executive board of directors at the Hall as well as on the Kokomo Center School Board, said after calling his wife, one of first calls he made after being notified was to his former high school coach Les Ray, a Sullivan native who also is in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

"I am sure that Mr. Ray was instrumental in the nomination process," said Callane, who played on three consecutive regional championship teams at Rushville High School for coach Les Ray, originally from Sullivan. "I called to tell him how much I appreciated all of his help throughout the years."

Callane graduated from Rushville in 1960, but not before earning 11 varsity letters.

He went on to graduate from DePauw University in 1964. He averaged almost 15 points per game as a junior and 19.8 ppg as a senior.

Callane received the Most Competitive Spirit Award and was named to the Washington University Holiday All-Tournament team as a junior.

In his final year at DePauw, he was co-captain and named most valuable player.

In just two seasons on the varsity, Callane left as the eighth all-time leading scorer and earning him a spot in the DePauw Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002.

He also was All-Indiana Collegiate Conference and was selected Small College All-American Honorable Mention.

Callane said that it was not a slight to be honorable mention that year.

"Bob Love and Jerry Sloan, who both who went on to star with the Chicago Bulls, were both Small College All-Americans when I was a senior," said Callane, who was 67-25 in his last four seasons at Linton after going 3-18 in his first season in 1972. "There were a lot of very good ball players out there."

Callane scored a career-high 36 points and owned the single-game scoring record in the old arena at Indiana State University. Callane said it was quite an accomplishment, especially without the 3-point shot.

"That was long before Larry Bird played at Indiana State,"' said Callane. "It is not Hulman, but is it over there by the track.

"They hold freshmen registration there now. I took kids over there for Boys State. I have some good memories of that place. A guy from Winston Salem (N.C.) named Bobby Glover ended up breaking the record."

He said other things that stood about that game was they lost the game, Lenny Long of ISU grabbed 25 rebounds and that he had no idea it was an ISU record (it wasn't a DePauw record) until someone told him in the locker room after the game.

Callane, who earned his Master's Degree at Indiana University in 1967, said he was fortunate to be a part of the 17th class (six each year) to be inducted in the DePauw Athletic Hall of Fame," said Callane.

"It also was neat that Dr. Phil Eskew was head of the selection committee."

Callane said that he remembers being part of the ICC, which featured Butler, Ball State, Evansville, ISU, and Valparaiso.

"It was quite a conference," he said. "There were a lot of neat places to play, like Butler Fieldhouse, Evansville and ISU, and there were some great athletes, including Sloan at Evansville and Wayne Allison (Sullivan High School) was a heck of a player for Indiana State. Ball State had a guy named Ed Butler and Stan Neal, who went on to coach at Washington (High School), played for Ball State."

Callane played college basketball for coach Elmer McCall, an Indiana Hall of Fame member who coached 1957 state champion South Bend Central before moving to DePauw. Callane said that McCall had connections, which allowed DePauw to make memorable road trips.

"John Wooden coached at South Bend Central and McCall had met him there," Callane said of Wooden, who later coached 10 NCAA championship teams at UCLA. "My sophomore year we played in a tournament with Colorado State, UCLA and USC. Which one of these teams didn't belong? We played in the LA Coliseum, which was unique.

"That UCLA team with Wooden as coach featured Gail Goodrich and Walt Hazzard, who two years later won the first of all those national championships. The rest is history."

Callane said he also played at Cincinnati Gardens, the year after the Cincinnati Bearcats, who still had Ron Bonham, Tom Thacker and George Wilson, won the NCAA championship.

"I'll tell you there were times when we were out of our league, literally," said Callane, who also had brief stints coaching at Spencer and Rushville High Schools.

After coaching four years (two as JV coach) at Danville High School, Callane and his wife Marie, moved to Linton.

He said that Jim Gabbard was principal then, the late Larry Hasler was junior varsity coach, Les Newman was freshman coach and Leon Moody drove the team bus.

"We had some very, very good friends in Linton," said Callane. "We still think of them as good friends. We came back for Larry's funeral.

"I remember Mr. Gabbard was a former basketball coach that would go scouting with us. It was nice to work with administrators that understood the importance of athletics."

Callane said he had a great staff when he was in charge of the Miner hoop fortunes.

"Larry was an outstanding assistant coach. He was very knowledgeable, as was Les Newman, who ran our open gyms," said Callane.

"I give Les a lot of credit for how Rick (Crynes) developed as a shooter. They did a great job with our younger guys and instilling a lot of hunger and dedication in them."

Crynes played three seasons for Crynes, his last in 1974, the first of three straight sectional championships for Linton-Stockton, who won 17 of 24 games that season.

"Coach was like a father figure to me," said Crynes, who scored exactly 1,000 career points at Linton-Stockton. "You wanted to play your heart out for him.

"He always encouraged me to keep working at it. I would not be where I am at today without him."

Crynes still owns the school record for most points in a game. He poured in 47 in an 89-87 victory over visiting Clinton on Friday, Feb. 8, 1974. He hit two free throws in the final seconds to help clinch the victory.

"Rick lived in the gym. He just lived right down the street from the school," said Callane. "He was about as good of a shooter as I have ever seen.

"He might have had 70 if there was a 3-point line then. He had great range. Once he got in rhythm, he was awesome. I will never forget that snowy night."

Crynes said that Callane was very disciplined and very direct in what he wanted the players to do and how to do it.

"Coach was a great teacher," Crynes said, who played three seasons for Callane. "We played in a lot of tight games. He would call a time-out in the sectional and would be the calmest man in the gym. He would just discuss what he wanted us to do on the floor.

"I do admit that he might get on us pretty good for not playing defense like we should have. I will vouch for that. He was just a great coach. He was very smart and had us prepared for every game. He was a real student of the game. He is the best that I have ever been around."

Crynes said that Callane watched them play at the park in the summer and made sure they had the necessary equipment.

"He always helped us out," said Crynes. "There was not a lot of money in those days.

"He gave me a pair of Converse with blue toes on them. Mine were about as shot as anybody's were. They had holes in the soles and had duct tape on them. I was tickled to death to have free shoes. After I put them on, I told coach I couldn't wear them because they were too heavy. They were weighted shoes. After I got used to those heavy shoes, I could fly up and down the court in regular shoes."

Crynes said that Callane found a way to utilize his abilities in ways he had not considered.

"I played a two guard, but coach wanted to put me in the post," said Crynes. "Honestly I did not want to do it.

"He told me not to worry because the offense would still run through me despite tweaking it. I think I went out and scored 30 the next game. I was able to get to the basket easier and got to the free throw line more. He was a great coach."

During their title run in 1974, the Miners beat L & M 65-61 and then defeated Bloomfield 70-68 in the Friday night semifinals.

In the title game on Saturday night, Linton-Stockton beat Switz City (Central) 84-82 in two overtimes.

"Rusty Miller played then at Switz City. He was a great shooter said Callane.

"We beat them in overtime when he was a junior. We chased him everywhere. Our kids were totally exhausted. I think we wore him out. He led the state in scoring the next year (818 points, 38.9 ppg in 1974-75)."

Before the title game, Crynes ended up with the game ball after the win over BHS.

"In all the excitement after being fortunate to beat a good Bloomfield team, some buddies just ran out of the gym with the game ball and later gave it to me," said Crynes. "Later on I got a call from coach Callane and he had heard about it already.

"He said I would have to return it. He came down to the house and got it."

Crynes also said they trailed in their sectional opener against L & M.

"We were down seven or eight points at the half. We had just went through the motions," said Crynes. "He chewed us out for taking them for granted.

"Did he ever light into me. That was probably the difference in us winning those close games to take the sectional."

Crynes added that Callane was responsible for bringing the Linton gymnasium (now the junior high gym) back to life.

"He took an overhead projector with a slide of an old Miner and projected that on the wall," said Crynes. "He would then spend hours painting that image.

"He asked me to help. Basically I just watched him and cleaned up the floor. He was just one of those guys you wanted to be around. I can't say enough about the guy. He is very deserving to be in the Hall of Fame."

Crynes said that wasn't the only painting that he did.

"I also helped coach paint yellow lines on the courts at the park," he said. "He was willing to help in any way possible."

Crynes, who said that Callane tried to find him an opportunity to play on the next level but he decided to stay home and get married, added that Callane was still quite a player in the 1970s.

"Back then, I couldn't hold a candle to him. He was an outstanding player," said Crynes. "He was very smart and did not make mistakes.

"He could shoot it and he could handle it. One night at practice he got me motivated pretty good saying he was going to guard me. But I did not have any answers for him."

In an interview before his death in March 2008, the same month that Callane was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Hasler said he had some vivid memories of working with Callane.

"One year at the Switz City Sectional there was a last-second shot," said Hasler, who took over when Callane departed and coached the Miners for three seasons. "Before it was ruled in our favor, I had to grab him and drag him off the scorer's bench.

"I did not want him to get a technical foul, but I also did not want him to bust up that scorer's bench that I had built."

Hasler said Callane was mild-mannered, most of the time, but was intense, organized, liked to win and ran a pretty tight ship in practice.

"I remember one time at Sullivan he was wearing these penny loafers," said Hasler. "He stomped and kicked so hard that his shoe came off and went clear across the floor.

"The ref handed it too him and then call a T (technical foul) on him. He never wore those penny loafers any more."

The Miners, who did not play in the Greene County Invitational and were part of the Western Indiana Conference when Callane coached at Linton-Stockton, went 17-6 as they repeated as sectional champs at Switz City in 1975 and got the three-peat in 1976, winning 19 of 24 games.

"What a great sectional that was," said Callane, who was named IHSBCA District Coach of the Year in 1976. "You would drive through this little town and the gym would be packed with 3,000 fans.

"It was a great atmosphere to play a tournament in. There were some great basketball teams at Bloomfield and Eastern."

Callane said his sons -- James, Jeffrey and Jon -- still remember riding the fire truck after winning those sectionals.

"My youngest son was born in Kokomo, but James and Jeffrey said they could remember the trips on the fire trucks very vividly," said Callane. "Those days were a lot of fun."

Callane said there were so many good kids that played for him throughout the years, including John Sullivan in 1971-72, when the Miners were 3-18.

"That was a long year, but I had great kids," he said. "John played hard and with so much energy. He would not give up."

Coach added that Mike Sparks, Randy Sparks, Larry Simmons, Randy Goodman, Tim Jones, Rick Gentry, the Stockrahm twins and Dwight Word were just a few of the players that made his stay at Linton-Stockton such a successful, rewarding and memorable one.

"Randy was a great athlete that ended up playing golf at Indiana State. I remember one night I challenged Mike and he went out and grabbed the first 10 rebounds against Greencastle," he said. "I had the Stockrahm twins wear different colored shorts so I could tell them a part."

Callane then left Linton after that 1975-76 season for Kokomo Hayworth, where he spent eight years as head coach.

"It was not an easy decision to leave a school with 450 kids and go to Hayworth, who had 1,400 kids when they became a school after the split with Kokomo in 76-77," he said. "We had so much fun, won some games and loved it at Linton.

"I remember Leon Moody stepping in when our mascot was sick. It was great to see this 65-year-old man put on this hot mascot uniform. Things like that are some of the fond memories I have of my time in Greene County."

When Hayworth closed after the 1983-84 season, Callane then became the assistant coach for Carl McNulty at Kokomo until he became the athletic director at the school, a position he had until his retirement four years ago.

"I had some great experiences in Kokomo," said Callane, who was named Kokomo Tribune coach of the year and twice won the WIOU Golden Whistle Award at Hayworth. "All of our home games were at Memorial Gym, but we only got to practice one night a week there.

"To show you how competitive it was between Kokomo and Hayworth, the custodian there would not turn on the lights before 7 p.m. on Thursday, our scheduled practice time. Even if the Kokomo freshmen team got done early, we would be on the court stretching in the dark.

"That was a great old gym with a great atmosphere. I can remember seeing 7,000 people evenly split when Kokomo played the Hayworth Huskies."

Kokomo, a member of the North Central Conference, which USA Today once touted as the premier high school conference in the Midwest, during Callane's tenure as AD.

He won the inaugural NCC Sportsmanship Conference Director in 1995 and was tabbed District II Athletic Director of the Year in 1997.

In 2005, Callane, received the Distinguished Hoosier Award from Gov. Mitch Daniels.

"I have been very fortunate to have such a wonderful career and the pleasure to work with some many great coaches, administrators, athletes and their families," said Callane. "I felt a little bit guilty when I was AD at Kokomo and we had a golf or track teams that won a state title. Any recognition I received then was a result of our coaches and student-athletes and all their hard work.

"I was fortunate to grow up in a community like Rushville, where sportsmanship, hard work and academics were a high priority. I have some great memories of every place I've ever been, including Linton. I still like going back for the Phil Harris golf tournament. It was a very special place."