Athletics & Recreation
The Clark Twins
The four sets of twins of Harvey and Gertrude Clark of Andrews were already well-known nationally before the boys decided to form a basketball team called the Clark Twins and go on the road. The boy twins - Bob and Ross, Dale and Don, and Jim and Joe - barnstormed the Midwest. The twin girls - Mildred and Margaret - originally played a bit, but were known more for their singing as halftime entertainment. In one five-month stretch, the Clark Twins played 94 games covering 33 states. After winning two National Family Basketball Tournaments and being featured in Life Magazine, the Clark Twins caught the eye of Abe Saperstein, manager of the Harlem Globetrotters. They were part of the world tour as an opponent of the Globetrotters for four years. In 1951 alone, the tour covered more than 100 games in 14 countries, including playing before a record crowd of 75,000 in Berlin, Germany.
Dr. Gary Dilley
In just seven years, Gary Dilley went from learning to swim in Huntington’s Lake Clare to standing on a podium in Tokyo in 1964, wearing an Olympic Silver Medal around his neck. After winning 10 national YMCA titles under legendary Huntington coach Glen Hummer, Dilley won the 200 backstroke at the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials. At the 1964 Tokyo Games, the 19-year-old Dilley placed second in the 200 backstroke, edged at the finish by teammate Jed Graef. Dilley continued his swimming career at Michigan State University, where he was a 12-time All-American, amassed eight Big Ten Titles and two World University Games gold medals. Following his time in the pool, Dilley became a pediatric dentist, teaching and running a private practice in North Carolina.
Dr. Mark "Mickey" Erehart
An all-around standout athlete at Huntington High School in the first decade of the 20th century, Mark “Mickey” Ererhart continued as a sports star at Indiana University where he lettered in three sports. As a three-year letterwinner and captain of the Hoosiers’ football team, Erehart put his name in the Big Ten record book with a 98-yard run from scrimmage in 1912, a record that remains today. Erehart went on to earn a medical degree, and as a doctor in Huntington, he served the community with his practice for 40 years
Growing up in the basketball hotbed of Muncie, it was inevitable that the game would make an impact on the life of Fred Fields. A Muncie Southside High School alum, Fields became friends with several Muncie legends who would become lifelong influences. He began a teaching and coaching career at Huntington North High School, initially coaching in the boys program before taking over as girls head coach in 1987. Fields led the Lady Vikings to their first state finals appearance in 1989, losing in the semifinals. The next season, Huntington North won its final 21 games en route to the school’s first state championship. The Lady Vikings added a second title in 1995, finishing with a 28-1 record. In a two-year run through 1996, the Lady Vikes won 44 straight games, reaching No. 3 in one national poll. In his 10 seasons at HNHS, Fields compiled a 206-49 record. He coached three Indiana All-Stars, and in 1996, he was named coach of the Indiana All-Star team. He was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
George Haines began his swimming career in the legendary Huntington YMCA program under coach Glen Hummer. Haines followed Hummer into coaching, and in 2001 was named Coach of the Century by the International Swimming Hall of Fame. He swam on Huntington’s national championship teams in 1940 and 1946. After serving in World War II, Haines went west, coaching at Santa Clara High School and starting the Santa Clara Swim Club. His high school team won 215 consecutive dual meets and 11 unofficial national titles. From 1968 to 1970, his swimmers held national high school records in all strokes at every distance. The club team won 43 national titles and broke more than 200 world records. Haines produced 53 Olympians, including Mark Spitz, amassing 44 gold, 14 silver and 10 bronze medals. Haines was head U.S. Olympic coach three times. Haines died in 2006. A statue of Haines stands over the Santa Clara pool where he coached, now called the George F. Haines International Swim Center.
Though nearly 60 years have passed since wiry Roanoke native Gene Hartley qualified a car for the Indianapolis 500, his family’s business and sporting roots still nourish pride and memories in his hometown of Roanoke.
Leslie Eugene “Gene” Hartley was born Jan. 28, 1926, to Paul T. and Sarah Rupert Hartley. His father, who went by Ted, was a mechanic in the family business – the Hartley Garage.
Gene Hartley graduated from Roanoke High School in 1944. After stints in the Army Air Corps and at Purdue University, he returned to Roanoke and began racing in earnest.
His success in smaller race cars soon brought him to the attention of car owners in the highest levels of American racing. He qualified for the first Indianapolis 500 he entered, in 1950, and finished 16th. Over the next 12 years, Hartley qualified for nine more Indianapolis 500s.
Hartley competed in the top ranks of U.S. racing in midgets, sprint cars, stock cars, and Indianapolis-style “championship” cars for 16 years.
Among the greatest swimming coaches in U.S. history, Glen Hummer is known as the pioneer of Open Water Swimming. He coached the Huntington YMCA teams for more than 40 years and made them one of the top teams in the country. He was a coach for the U.S. Olympic team and numerous national teams and his Huntington swimming program produced a pair of Olympic medal winners. Huntington YMCA teams won 12 national championships under Hummer and produced 35 All-Americans.
Ralph "Boag" Johnson
One of Huntington’s early sports stars, Ralph “Boag” Johnson excelled in basketball at the high school level at Union Center and then at Huntington College, where he was among the top scorers in the state. Johnson then was a pioneer player in the early days of NBA with the Fort Wayne Zollner Pistons. After his playing career, Johnson became a coach, teacher and administrator at Columbia City and Warsaw high schools.
It was the golden age of college football, and Huntington native Harry Mehre experienced the game in just about every way possible. He went to the University of Notre Dame to play basketball, but was noticed by Irish football coach Knute Rockne, who convinced Mehre to join the football team as well, where he was the center on Rockne’s “Seven Mules” offensive line blocking for legendary George Gipp. Mehre and Rockne maintained a friendship after Mehre became football coach at the University of Georgia. Mehre put the Bulldog program on the map with an upset of national power Yale in 1929. He coached at Georgia for 10 years, then followed with a seven-year run coaching at the University of Mississippi, finishing with a career record of 98-60-7. Mehre joined the media side, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. For more than 20 years he offered analysis and memories with his unique combination of insight and humor.
A record-setting basketball player at Huntington College, Steve Platt returned to his alma mater as coach and turned the Foresters into a national power during his tenure. Platt was first a high school star at Union High School. At Huntington College he scored 3,700 points which is still tops among Indiana college players. In 14 years as a coach, Platt led the Foresters to 329 wins and a spot in the NAIA national tournament seven times, culminating with an appearance in the 2006 championship game.
The Seibold Family
From a horseshoe pit in the backyard of their Grayston Avenue home, the Seibolds became the most famous family name in the sport. Curly and Bonnie Seibold made horseshoe pitching a family event for their children Bonita, Mark and Paris. All three became champions. Mark won world men’s titles in 1976 and 1979 to go along with a state-record 22 Indiana titles. Bonita was junior girls state and world champion in 1967, and Paris added junior boys titles in 1969 and 1971. Bonnie won 17 state championships, while Curly earned senior titles. Both have held leadership positions at the state and national level. Bonnie was national vice president for 28 years. Curly, Bonnie and Mark are all in the national and state halls of fame, and Bonita and Paris are both in the Indiana junior hall. Lee Seibold, son of Paris, is the third-generation champion in the sport, winning four straight Indiana junior championships.
Bob Straight’s coaching excellence on the basketball court was highlighted by leading Huntington High School to a runner-up finish in the 1964 state basketball tournament. He demonstrated his leadership off the court as well. Following a coaching career that saw him win 71 percent of his games, Straight took over as principal at Huntington and helped lead the community through consolidation. He later assumed leadership roles with the IHSAA and the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, guiding construction of the hall’s building in New Castle.
Like so many others of his age, E.J. Tackett grew up idolizing Tiger Woods. He played golf and found early success. At the same time, he was also becoming a top bowler, following a family tradition in the sport.
Tackett won a state high school bowling title, and earned All-State honors in golf, including a fifth-place finish in the state finals and a pair of Huntington County Amateur championships. He followed the golf path into college at IPFW, but soon decided his future might be in bowling.
The change of course quickly paid dividends. In 2013, Tackett was named Rookie of the Year on the Professional Bowlers Association tour. In 2016 at age 24, Tackett won four events on the tour, including his first major in the PBA World Championship. He earned the Chris Schenkel Player of the Year award, named after the legendary sports broadcaster, also a Huntington County native. With 13 wins over a four-year span, Tackett established himself as the top bowler of his generation.
Ivan "Kaiser" Wilhelm
Ivan "Kaiser" Wilhelm was considered the best all-around athlete of his time and is still known as one of the greatest all-time in Huntington. At Huntington High School, Wilhelm was the on-court leader of the Viking basketball team that made the state Final Four in 1945, and quarterback on the football team that was conference champion his senior year. Wilhelm earned all-conference honors in football and basketball, and was an All-State selection in 1947. He also played baseball, ran track and played tennis. Wilhelm went to Tulane University, where he captained the basketball team, earning MVP and All-Southeastern Conference honors as a senior. After earning his teaching degree, Wilhelm returned to Huntington in 1956, where he coached basketball for four years and taught high school math until his retirement in 1989. Wilhelm was elected to the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
Lisa Winter Finn
By the time she was a senior at Huntington North, Lisa Winter had become the top girls basketball player in Indiana, leading one of the top prep programs in the country.
Winter grew up with a number of strong role models in Huntington. She saw Jenny Eckert become Huntington’s first Indiana All-Star, and watched the Lady Vikings reach the state finals two straight years, including a state title in 1990.
She joined coach Fred Fields’ team at HNHS, establishing herself as a leader of a talented squad. Winter was relentless as a defender, and flashed a multifaceted game on offense. She led the Lady Vikings to the state title in 1995, and was named the tournament MVP.
In Winter’s final two seasons, Huntington North compiled a 53-2 record. As a senior, she averaged nearly 20 points a game and was named Indiana Miss Basketball.
Winter went on to play collegiately at Ball State and Valparaiso. She followed with a career in coaching, first at Ben Davis High School and then at Indianapolis Cathedral.