News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports Columns

February 1, 2014

TILL IT'S OVER: Indiana Track and Field museum in Terre Haute a treasure for city

Patterson, Gibson honored as honorary members for helping make it happen

TERRE HAUTE — Greg Gibson and Dave Patterson were named honorary members of the Indiana Track and Field and Cross Country Hall of Fame on Saturday at a reception for the 2014 inductees Saturday.

The Wabash Valley inductees were former high-jump state champion Ted Sweatt of Terre Haute Wiley, former Sullivan and Indiana State standout Erica Moore, former state mile record holder Jack Corridan of Wiley and Tom Henderson of Brazil.

The museum at the Terre Haute Convention and Visitors Bureau on east Margaret Drive is dedicated to the terrific history of the sports in Indiana. If you’re a sports fan in Terre Haute, you’ll be glad if you find time to take a look.

Coach of the 1972 state champion Terre Haute North High School boys cross country team — which has its own dedication in the museum — Bill Welch presented the much-deserved awards to Gibson and Patterson.

“[Former Indiana University track coach and Hall director] Marshall [Goss] and I thought it was about time to recognize some people who have helped promote better cross country, better track and field and this museum here,” Welch said. “Us old-timers can remember when we stepped out to a golf course or an open field and they said ‘line up’ and they fired the gun and away you went. Of course, now we have signs, a sodded course, fenced in, people can see about 90 percent of the race. We have great awards ceremonies. Young people think it was always that way.”

Friends and family of the inductees gathered at Saturday’s reception, one coming from as far as Honolulu, Hawaii. Growing up, Shawn Corridan never knew of his father Jack Corridan’s exploits on the track.

The Wiley grad was known by many in the community to always run to school at St. Patrick’s Elementary and then to Wiley High School.

Jack Corridan won the mile state championship in 1924 in a record time of 4 minutes, 24.4 seconds.

Corridan went on to become a rocket scientist with NASA. His work helped put the first man on the moon. (Must have been all that running ... research shows exercise helps the brain, after all.)

“He was also a very humble person, too humble If I would have known more about him as I was growing up, it would have meant the world to me. It would have changed my life,” Shawn said at the induction Friday night. “Let this be a lesson to all you mothers and fathers out there: If you have a story to tell, no matter how insignificant you think it is, tell your kids. Tell them now. Don’t wait.”

Speaking of stories, it was a pleasure to hear the memories of the friends and brothers, Keith and Everett Jr., of Ted Sweatt, the 1964 boys high-jump state champion. The 1960s in Terre Haute sound like a very exciting time as far as athletics go. Keith said in his speech Friday at Indianapolis that he hoped everyone would feel like they knew Ted, who was killed in Vietnam in 1968, after his speech. Mission accomplished on that front.

Going back a few more years, the only Terre Haute native to win a gold medal in track and field is Greg Bell, who was in attendance Saturday. Bell won the 1956 gold medal in the long jump with a leap of 25 feet, 8 1/4 inches, eight years after finishing as IHSAA runner-up for Terre Haute Garfield.

Among the museum exhibits in Terre Haute are Bell’s footprint for his take-off and — 25-8 1/4 down the room — two footprints where he landed for that gold-medal leap.

It wasn’t Bell’s first trip to see the museum, who made the drive from northern Indiana, where the 83-year-old is still a practicing dentist.

“To make it possible to have this Hall of Fame, look how it’s grown. I think Terre Haute should be proud to have something like this,” Bell said. “I am proud and humbled to be a part of this. To me, the greatest thing this does, for young people to come through here and walk down the halls and see these pictures and read how someone came from absolutely nothing such as myself. They would ask themselves ‘why not me?’ To me, that’s the greatest legacy we can leave people to know don’t let the limits of your present view be the limits of your possibilities. There is a lot more out there.”

Craig Pearson can be reached by email at craig.pearson@tribstar.com or by phone at 812-231-4357. Please follow on Twitter @TribStarCraig.

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