1968 Darlington graduate and basketball manager Bob Shelton, proudly holds up the county keg.
My journey as a basketball manager began midway through my seventh-grade year at Darlington. Jim Spencer, our junior high basketball coach came to me and said, “Shelton you have two choices — sit on the bench like you are now and do nothing or I could sit on the bench and be a great help by being the manager.” Thus started a journey, and I am every thankful to Coach Spencer. As an eighth grader I managed the Jr. High teams and also became the manager for the high school teams. At times it could be intimidating managing upperclassmen, but it was always rewarding because I developed lifelong friendships. My freshman year, coach Galen Smith came to Darlington and we developed new ideas for keeping the locker-room organized. This organization made my job easier and allowed us to keep the equipment under my control. With coach Smith’s approval I was allowed to buy red and white striped towels to give us a classier look at games. My freshman year the team went into the county tournament at Crawfordsville, and defeated New Market who had a 9-2 record then they defeated New Ross who was 11-0. While we were at the hotel in downtown Crawfordsville waiting for the night game against Coal Creek, we had some Vitamin C pills that were good for energy and would help after we had a tough game against New Ross. What we forgot was to limit the number of pills and one player took too many, causing some adverse side effects. Honestly, I had forgotten about this until John ‘Butch’ Dale relayed the details to me recently. The adverse effect was a bad stomach ache and therefore Dale was unable to play much of the game and we lost the championship game by 2 points. Finally, my senior year we won the county tournament the first for Darlington since 1954; Wow, what an awesome feeling to be on the floor when the trophy was presented. Mike Mutterspaugh, Bill Douglas and I were so proud to raise it high as we were the only three seniors on the basketball team. Those were great memories. I feel that winning team was led by a great coach. The improvement they made from the previous season was very noticeable. After graduation from Darlington in 1968, I went to Purdue and continued my journey as a basketball manager. My freshman year there were eight managers, so you had to be ready at all times to do your job. During my freshman year while in my residence hall I had a knock at my door, it was senior point guard star Billy Keller. He asked to borrow my passport for a friend of his who was not a student; I was still a green freshman and I thought I would get in trouble, so I hesitated, but Billy said he would return it to me before the game started, which he did. That started a great friendship. Also during my freshman and sophomore year I would arrive at Mackey arena early and rebound for outstanding shooting star, Rick Mount, guess I made him better. My senior year I was selected to be senior manager and got to travel to all road games. The friendships developed with players and other managers continue today. I still get to be a part of the Purdue Basketball family. One special moment that happened recently was when Carolyn and I were at a football game and she got to meet one of her idols, Leroy Keyes, former Purdue great from the late 60s. Being a basketball manager has opened doors for me. When I needed a job during the summers it was the coaches that sent me to the right places. After graduating from Purdue, my first job was with DeKalb Seed. At the first sales meeting my boss introduced me as someone who obtained his leadership skills from his time as manager of the Purdue Basketball team. Years later Montgomery County held a Nostalgia Tournament with all nine schools and players participating. Before the game Dave Nicholson asked me to assist him in coaching the Darlington team because I knew most of the players. During the three years that the tournament was held, Darlington never lost. Bill Boone is a local sports historian who contributes to the Journal Review.