But the book would not have been anything without the help of the countless people I talked to and leaned on for firsthand accounts of these athletes.
I’ve been in this area since 2008, so I’ve seen only a few people actually play that are on this list. Without much of a firsthand knowledge of many of these athletes and teams, I knew that compiling a list would be impossible without the help of people who were in the stands while these athletes played.
Hearing stories of how great these men and women were in sports was likely my favorite part of the book. It helped me understand why so many people speak fondly of the great teams and athletes that graced the area in the 1950s through the 1980s, and how much has changed (especially with specialization in one specific sport).
Those conversations and research have given me a much better understanding of the sports landscape for the past 60 years. I now have much more of an appreciation of the history associated with high school sports in this area.
Through much of the research, I encountered one major consistency that has occurred during the years.
Area residents truly care about their high school sports. On more than one occasion, more than 4,000 people were reported to watch basketball games at W.J. Yourd Gymnasium (featuring Bob Bentley-led St. Mary’s squads against Dick Broderson-led Clinton squads). Football fans turned out in record numbers for Fulton’s championships, and Camanche’s success in the 1980s garnered a heavy interest in many sports.
And that’s what sports are all about — bringing people together. There are many athletes and teams who have given thousands of people something to root for, and we’re confident this book will put the reader right back in the stands, reminding them of the great athletics of the past and present.
When the books arrive next week, pick up a copy at either the Clinton Herald, Paul’s or Hy-Vee, and take a step back into the area’s history.
Scott Levine is the Associate Editor of the Clinton Herald. He can be reached at email@example.com.