News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Top Story 2

March 7, 2010

The Off Season: It just so happens that I have a good story for you

TERRE HAUTE — This is a story about two men who made a good decision, who did the right thing, who decided that being good coaches happens by caring more about their players than about just winning games. It’s also about a little boy who has had a moment in the sun, an instance that will probably stay with him for the rest of his life, and who, hopefully, knows that even though there will always be good people nearby to help him, the best things in life often start with having the courage to take a chance.

This tale, as well, is about a whole host of other people: folks who, if they didn’t know it already, discovered that even the most intense rivalry doesn’t really mean very much when a true moment of magic happens.

Allen Cobb is the dealership operations manager at Fuson Buick, Cadillac and GMC in Terre Haute; he’s also the president of the town board in Montezuma, a father of two, and a husband. And in his spare time, when he can find it, Allen is the fifth- and sixth-grade basketball coach at the small Parke County town’s elementary school. Allen just happens to be a former student and assistant coach of mine, too; he even took my job when I hung up the whistle. 

One of Allen’s players this past season was Jarot Walters, in many ways a most-typical fifth-grader with the most-typical interests. One desire near the top of his wish list was to play on the basketball team.

That’s when his parents stepped in and told him that it probably wouldn’t be a good idea, because even though Jarot is typical in so many ways, he deals with something that most kids don’t: A stroke after heart surgery as an infant left him with a good deal of paralysis, particularly on his left side.

Jarot’s parents, Linda and Darin – both of whom just happen to have sat in my classroom years ago – have tried to make their son’s life as normal as they can. They just didn’t know if basketball was doable.

In stepped Jarot’s grandma, Cheryl Walters, who just happens to be our school secretary and a great lady. She called Allen to see if Jarot could sit on the bench with the team; basketball means a lot to her grandson and her grandson means a lot to her. Allen, with the help of his youngest son (sixth-grader Brennan), talked to Jarot, and soon had the youngster next to him on the bench (I should say next to the spot where Allen sometimes sits …). Within a week or so, and at the urging of his wife, Terry, who just happened to play for me in the old purple and gold (I’m not saying how long ago that was), Allen had Jarot in an Aztecs’ uniform, and the little guy was running drills with the team.

Allen said, “That really started me to thinking about somehow, some way, getting Jarot into a game.”

Brennan, who himself deals with autism, knew Jarot when they attended a developmental preschool together. Allen added, “As a parent of a special-needs child, I think I may see things a little differently. As I watched Jarot in practice, I thought there had to be a way.”

That’s where Steve Hartman comes into the picture. Steve, 23, and pursuing a business degree, is the fifth-grade basketball coach at Rockville Elementary. Allen approached Steve before the Rox and Aztecs met in a regular-season game last December and asked him if he would mind if, after the game had been decided one way or the other, they could work out a way to get Jarot into the action to shoot a free throw or two. Steve told Allen that he didn’t care what the score was or who was winning; he and his team wanted to be a part of getting Jarot onto the floor.

“When Allen first talked to me about a little boy who would never really get a chance to play in a game, my heart just went out to him. I was just so impressed with Jarot and his love for the game — what an incredible individual he is,” Steve said.

“My kids’ reaction to this whole thing was special, too. I told them in the locker room before the game, and it was so cool to see how they felt about it and about Jarot. Many of them know him, and they were very excited about it,” he added.

So, a plan was put into action. It even involved the referees, one of whom I just happened to know since he played in three sports against my son in high school, a big redhead by the name of Robert Harrison. With three minutes to go in the game, the whistle was blown, and Allen stepped toward Jarot, who had no idea what was about to happen.

“It’s your time, big fella,” Allen told his player. “We need you to shoot two free throws for us.”

By that time Jarot, very much afraid, and a little dazed, walked onto the court, and the fans, both those dressed in purple, and those in blue, realized what was happening and started to cheer. Shooting with only his right hand, he drew both the bank board and the rim on his first shot, but missed. After Harrison nudged him a bit closer to the basket, he carefully eyed the basket, wound up, and banked the second one in. 

The entire gymnasium erupted. The Aztecs’ coach ran out to the free throw line to embrace his player, and soon both teams and coaching staffs were lined up to give him a high-five or shake his hand or pat him on the back. And there were three minutes left to play …

 A whole host of people besides Allen and Steve helped make Jarot’s day a memorable one. For instance, Allen’s brother, Don, and Buddy Wilson — who just happen to be former students of mine, too — worked with Jarot in practice every day. Rockville’s scorebook keeper, Marie Wimsett, insisted that Jarot’s point was placed into the record and that it was shown on the scoreboard. I guess you never know; a hopeful grandma here, a supportive crowd there, and a pair of parents who were scared but brave, can move mountains.

Isn’t it remarkable that in an era in which we are strafed with the negative, with stories in the news about this athlete’s indiscretion, that politician’s poor decision, that today, in this space, you got to read a story about people who had the opportunity to do the right thing, a good thing, and did it. How fortunate I am to have known so many of them.

Doing things right, well, that’s good business. But it just so happens that doing the right thing is a whole different ball game.

Mike Lunsford can be reached at hickory913@aol.com, or write to him C/O the Tribune-Star at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN 47808. Mike will be speaking and signing his books at the Brazil Women’s Reading Club on March 16, and at the Clinton First Baptist Church on March 17. Visit his Web site at www.mikelunsford.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Top Story 2
  • holiday world thunderbird.jpg Holiday World plans new winged roller coaster

    SANTA CLAUS, Ind. (AP) — The Holiday World amusement park in southern Indiana is building a new $22 million roller coaster that it says will launch riders to 60 miles an hour in 3.5 seconds, with a 14-story loop and four inversions.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Health Overhaul Subsi_Ter .jpg Obamacare hit by ruling, but subsidies to continue

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court delivered a potentially serious setback to President Barack Obama’s health care law today, imperiling billions of dollars in subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who bought policies.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Switzerland Obit Wint_Ter .jpg Blues legend Johnny Winter dies at 70 in Zurich

    GENEVA (AP) — Texas blues legend Johnny Winter emblazoned himself into the world’s consciousness with his tattooed arms churning out lightning-fast guitar riffs and his striking long white hair flowing from under his cowboy hat.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 071609 BLUEBERRIES.jpg Scoop up some blueberries, live music

    Terre Foods Cooperative Market will present the sixth annual Blueberry Festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. today, at Central Presbyterian Church, 125 N. Seventh St.
    Blueberry compote sundaes will be available for $5.

    July 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Emmy Nominations_Ter .jpg ‘Game of Thrones’ earns a leading 19 Emmy nods

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — The sprawling and bloodthirsty saga “Game of Thrones,” defying the Emmy Awards’ grudging respect for such fantasy fare, emerged as the leader in the nominations announced today with 19 bids, including best drama series.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 033114 GREG ZOELLER MUG.jpg GREG ZOELLER: State’s lawyer has duty to represent state in marriage lawsuit appeal

    Recent federal court actions that first struck down Indiana’s statute limiting marriage to the traditional definition, and then stayed that order pending appeal, have left many in our state in legal limbo.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Judge strikes down Kentucky's gay marriage ban

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A federal judge in Kentucky struck down the state's ban on gay marriage on Tuesday, though the ruling was temporarily put on hold and it was not immediately clear when same-sex couples could be issued marriage licenses

    July 1, 2014

  • APTOPIX Gay Marriage _Morg.jpg ACROSS INDIANA: The latest news after gay marriage ruling

    Pence: Marriage should be a state-by-state choice

    GOP leader: Supreme Court must act on marriage

    Some counties wait to issue gay marriage licenses

    Gay marriage opponents say they 'warned' of ruling

    Same-sex couples in Indiana hail equal treatment

    Indiana AG says it will appeal gay marriage ruling

    Judge strikes down Indiana ban on gay marriage

    1st gay couple marries legally in Indianapolis

    June 25, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • Obama_Morg.jpg Obama: U.S. should have paid maternity leave

    WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama said Monday that the United States should join the rest of the industrialized world and offer paid leave for mothers of newborns.

    June 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obit-Ruby Dee_Ter .jpg Daughter: Actress Ruby Dee dies at home of 'natural causes'

    NEW YORK (AP) — Ruby Dee, an acclaimed actor and civil rights activist whose versatile career spanned stage, radio television and film, has died at age 91, according to her daughter.

    June 12, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mosaic Potholes _Ter .jpg Chicago man filling potholes — artfully

    The perfect pothole might not exist for many people — but for mosaic artist Jim Bachor, it’s one with a nice oval shape. Bachor began filling those potholes a little more than a year ago, after one in front of his house became a hassle.

    June 12, 2014 3 Photos

  • Staten Island Fire _Ter .jpg 34 injured in Staten Island fire

    NEW YORK (AP) — Fire tore through three townhouses on Staten Island early today, injuring 34 people including two young children who were tossed out of a smoke-filled second-floor window into the arms of neighbors below, authorities and witnesses said.

    June 5, 2014 3 Photos

  • Germany Van Gogh~s Ea_Ter .jpg German museum shows live replica of van Gogh’s ear

    BERLIN (AP) — A German museum has put on display a copy of Vincent van Gogh’s ear that was grown using some of the Dutch artist’s genetic material.

    June 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Heat Pacers Basketball Pacers keep hope alive with win over Heat

    Paul George and the Pacers got one win Wednesday night.
    Now comes the hard part: Winning an elimination game at Miami against LeBron James and the Heat.

    May 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 050414 PINK SHADOW.jpg Awareness advocates gather to ‘Paint the Town Pink’

    Pink.
    It is the color of the ribbon painted on the pavement at the corner of Sixth Street and Wabash Avenue in downtown Terre Haute. It’s also the color associated with women and breast cancer.

    May 4, 2014 4 Photos

  • MERS Virus American_Tayl.jpg MERS-CoV: Mysterious virus found in Indiana

    Health officials on Friday confirmed the first case of an American infected with a mysterious virus that has sickened hundreds in the Middle East.

    May 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 041314 PAINT PARTY.jpg Going purple: ‘Honoring those who are still fighting’ against cancer

    Every stroke of paint that touched the roadway had a profound meaning to a small group of painters on Sunday.

    April 13, 2014 4 Photos

  • Ukraine_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Tuesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, April 8:

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • NCAA Kentucky UConn F_Tayl.jpg UConn wins NCAA title, 60-54, over Kentucky

    No conference wanted them. Several teammates and their coach left them. The NCAA wouldn’t have them.
    UConn won it all anyway.

    April 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • TV-Letterman Retiring_Ter .jpg Letterman’s departure will reshape late-night

    NEW YORK (AP) — Jimmy Fallon’s fast start replacing Jay Leno on the “Tonight” show the past two months had a secondary effect: David Letterman suddenly seemed old.

    April 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • Colts Owner Arrested _Ter .jpg Police: Colts owner had $29K in cash when arrested

    CARMEL, Ind. (AP) — Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay had $29,000 in cash and bottles of prescription drugs in his vehicle when he was arrested on suspicion of intoxicated driving, according to a police arrest report.

    March 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Malaysia Plane_Ter .jpg UPDATE: Relatives sob as Malaysia confirms plane is lost

    BEIJING (AP) — Relatives shrieked and sobbed uncontrollably. Men and women nearly collapsed, held up by loved ones. Their grief came pouring out after 17 days of waiting for definitive word on the fate of the passengers and crew of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Chicago Train_Ter .jpg Train derails, climbs escalator at Chicago airport

    CHICAGO (AP) — An eight-car Chicago commuter train plowed across a platform and scaled an escalator at an underground station at one of the nation’s busiest airports early today, injuring 32 people on board, officials said.

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Snohomish Mudslide_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Monday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, March 24:

    March 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • NYC Explosion_Ter .jpg Searchers scour rubble after blast kills 7

    NEW YORK (AP) — Rescuers working amid gusty winds, cold temperatures and billowing smoke pulled four additional bodies overnight from the rubble of two Manhattan apartment buildings, as the death toll rose today, to at least seven from a gas leak-triggered explosion.

    March 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Film Casting Jesus_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Friday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, March 7:

    March 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • US Obama Ukraine Russ_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Tuesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, March 4:

    March 4, 2014 1 Photo

  • 86th Academy Awards -_Ter (2).jpg ‘12 Years a Slave’ wins best picture at Oscars

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — Perhaps atoning for past sins, Hollywood named the brutal, unshrinking historical drama “12 Years a Slave” best picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards.

    March 3, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET030114swope shaffer.jpg VIDEO: Mardi Gras at the Swope

    Teresa Shaffer was handing out beads and masks at the Swope Art Museum's Mardi Gras celebration Saturday night. The event is an annual fundraiser for the downtown museum.

    March 1, 2014 2 Photos 1 Video

  • Married Priest_Ter .jpg 10 Things to Know for Friday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today, Feb. 28:

    February 28, 2014 1 Photo

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Today in History for July 28th Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma Obama Advisor Skips House Hearing Video Shows Smiling American Bomber in Syria
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity