Friday, April 4, 2003

Middletown fans give profile of dream coach

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MIDDLETOWN - Eric Tudor stood at center court, where this city's high school basketball legends put Middletown on the national sports map, and asked an audience of fans what type of coach would best lead the Middies back to their winning ways.

More than 20 fans and boosters of the Middletown High School boys basketball Middies attended athletic director Tudor's unusual public meeting Wednesday evening on the basketball court at the Wade E. Miller Gym.

Some school and city leaders have recently called for a renewed effort in revitalizing Middletown's once powerful basketball program as a needed source of civic pride.

Assisted by Cincinnati-based education consultant Roger Effron, Tudor used the unusual forum to reach out to Middie supporters to gauge their opinions about the qualities they wanted in their next coach, who is expected to be hired by May 19.

Under Middletown's championship banners, Effron deftly handled a basketball and harkened back to Middletown's glory days beginning in the 1940s when the basketball Middies began a decades-long domination of Ohio prep basketball, winning a record seven state titles with the likes of NBA Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas and stars such as Archie Aldridge and Butch and Chris Carter.

Effron then prompted the audience to talk about what sort of coach Middletown needs to win regularly in the Great Miami Conference and beyond.

Some paid homage to the Middies' extraordinary history, but said it's time to move on.

"I understand we have a great past, but Jerry Lucas doesn't live here anymore," said Middletown resident Tyrone Turner.

Former Middie guard Jim Gillis, a 1961 graduate who played under Middletown coaching great Paul Walker, said he wants a coach who will develop the full student on and off the court.

"He has to teach them how to learn from athletics and to motivate our youngsters to see the value of education," Gillis said.

Among the top characteristics getting votes from the audience were: a motivator; a coach with a good track record of winning; a disciplinarian and someone "who loves and understands the great Middie tradition."

Tudor said the recommendations will be forwarded to a 12-member selection committee of school and community representatives.


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