In the fall of 1953, eighteen seniors, nine New Richmond Cardinals and nine Wingate Spartans entered the doors of a new school and became the Coal Creek Central Bearcats. They joined twenty juniors, sixteen sophomores, and thirty freshmen to continue a proud athletic tradition that had started in the early 1900s. Wingate had opened its doors in 1889 and New Richmond had followed in 1903.
One of the most prominent families in the athletic world of Coal Creek Township from the beginning to the end was the Olin family. Beginning with the glory days of the Wingate State Championship teams of 1913 and 1914, there were three Olin brothers, Leland, Lester, and Leverett in that generation of Spartans. Leland played on the first State Championship team of 1913 and Lester, whose interests ran more to football, attended Butler University to play football. Lester returned to coach his nephew Harold, (Leland’s son) on the 1934 New Richmond Cardinal team that won New Richmond’s only sectional title. Harold then went to Central Normal College at Danville to get his degree and a teacher’s license. He then coached at West Lebanon in Warren County and Jackson Twp. In Tippecanoe County before settling in Mt. Comfort where he coached baseball and track and started the football program which eventually evolved into a very successful program at the consolidation of Vernon Twp., which became Mt. Vernon. Harold’s brother Darrell, played basketball at New Richmond in the late 30s and then watched his son, Denny, play for the consolidation at Coal Creek Central in 1965 when the Bearcats won the first of their two County championships. The other was in 1966-67.
In those exciting years of playing baseball, basketball, and football, in addition to running track, the two old rivals had been powerhouses in the County. New Richmond won the County basketball crown in 1933, the Crawfordsville sectional in 1934, and the County track championship in 1934, 1936, and 1937. All three were won under Indiana State track star, Frank Allhands who would become the track coach at the new school. Allhands taught and coached for 28 years in Coal Creek Township and 10 years in Florence, AZ. He won three varsity letters in track at Indiana State Teachers College and held the 440 yard dash record for 10 years. He received the Big Wood Award for being MVP in track his senior year. Frank spent 10 productive years in Florence, AZ, where he taught and coached in elementary school, using the Montgomery County brand of Indiana basketball to win 12 championships. He was featured in Charles Clemens’ book entitled Harpo: War Survivor, Basketball Wizard.
Bill Boone is a local sports historian who contributes to the Journal Review.