“Family, Faith and Football.”
These were the words inscribed on a new monument unveiled at Clinton Friday night to pay tribute to a man who dedicated his life to those three ideas, “in that order.”
And Brent Anderson touched many lives in the process.
Hundreds of people gathered at the South Vermillion High School football field Friday night for a ceremony that unveiled the monument and that named the field after beloved Wabash Valley football coach Brent Anderson, who passed away suddenly in a car accident earlier this year. He was 72.
“Family, Faith and Football. ...That’s how he lived his life,” said Judy Anderson, the late coach’s wife and former Terre Haute mayor.
Around 50 of Anderson’s family and friends stood at the center of the field for the ceremony as South Vermillion Community Schools superintendent Dave Chapman presented Anderson with a plaque commemorating the event.
“It’s just a fitting tribute to a great man,” Chapman told the Tribune-Star.
Tears fell from Judy Anderson’s eyes upon the unveiling of the monument— located by the stadium’s entrance — and seeing it for the first time.
“It’s beautiful,” said Anderson emotionally as she kissed the monument.
“It’s such an honor and such a tribute....He was the center of our universe,” the first — and, so far, only — woman elected mayor of Terre Haute told the Tribune-Star.
As a nod to the late coach’s faith, Friar Mark Weaver of St. Joseph University Parish in Terre Haute blessed the monument.
“He was just a kind-hearted ‘gentle giant,’” Anderson said of her husband.
Brent Anderson was born on Feb. 15, 1941 and was a graduate of Schulte High School and Indiana State University. Upon graduating from ISU, he joined the San Diego Charges, the game announcer said.
While at Indiana State, Brent Anderson met and married Judy Mars on June 12, 1965. His long teaching and coaching career began at Sacred Heart High School in Indianapolis. He also coached at Central Catholic High School in Fort Wayne before moving back home to be the head coach at Clinton/South Vermillion High School.
The first South Vermillion football coach, Anderson coached at Clinton/South Vermillion High School from 1972 through 1985.
“In the fall of 1974, his team stepped up to every challenge. They won the WIC Conference Title 10-0,” the announcer said.
After retiring as head coach, he taught and coached at Sarah Scott Middle School in Terre Haute. In 2010, he was inducted into the Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“We’re just amazed how he touched other people’s lives,” Judy Anderson said.
The tribute was conceived and was brought to life by Anderson’s former students and football players.
“It definitely shows the impact he made,” said Anderson’s son, Luke Anderson.
One of those former students is Larry Bell, who was present at the event.
“Coach had a huge influence on me,” said Bell who played for Anderson in the 70’s.
“I admired him and loved him,” he said.
In addition to honoring the beloved coach, the monument is meant to remind current and future wildcat players of his legacy of hard work and dedication.
And a new tradition started Friday night before the game between the South Vermillion Wildcats and the Northview Knights.
As they entered the now Brent Anderson Memorial Stadium, each and every wildcat player tapped the new granite monument. The monument also has the words “We can win, we must win, and we will win.”
“It’s a gift that’s going to be giving forever,” Judy Anderson said.
“We wish he [Brent] were here to enjoy it,” she said.
Tribune-Star Reporter Dianne Frances D. Powell can be reached at 812-231-4299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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