I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from the mid-1970s until the mid-80s. I was a sales district manager for a large industrial supply company based in Ohio. I hired, trained and worked with about 30 independent sales agents. I worked in all of the lower Michigan area except the Detroit area.
I met a couple of guys that were high school basketball referees. They told me about refereeing, and it sounded interesting. After thinking about it for a while. I applied, passed all the requirements, and became a referee.
I began working some local games and I would provide the referee assignment folks a copy of my work schedule including the city I would be visiting. Sometimes they would contact me to substitute for a referee that was injured or sick.
A few years later, I started my own company and eventually moved back to Indianapolis. Starting a new business kept me very busy, but I felt that I had time to continue refereeing. I applied and received an Indiana Referee License. I started working some younger boys and girls’ games for a Center Grove league. These were elementary school students. Several of the girls’ teams had some very promising players. It wasn’t surprising to me when several years later the Center Grove girls basketball team won the state championship. I believe that was 1996.
During my time in Michigan, I met Scott McNeal (aka Gus Macker) and his brother. They both had launched a three-on-three outdoor basketball tournament in 1974 with 18 players in their parent’s driveway.
The tourney is still in existence and has been played in over 972 locations. There have been over 2.2 million players – male and female from 7 years old to 50+ – and more than 23 million spectators. After returning to Indianapolis, I worked with the Gus Macker program for several years when it came to central Indiana.
It is very enjoyable to me when I take time to reflect on some of my teams and players from Center Grove and the weekends working with the Gus Macker tournament.
Southport High School Girls’ Basketball team won a state title in 1980.
Beech Grove High School’s girls’ team won the 2003 3A State Championship behind the leadership of Miss Basketball, Katie Gearlds. She went on to play at Purdue and in the WNBA. I believe that in 2013, Katie became the women’s basketball coach at Marian University.
After several years and some wonderful years at Marian University, Katie was named Women’s head coach at Purdue University last year. Her team has started this year and at this time they have an 8-1 record.
We all have had a lot going on now. Winter, Christmas and New Year, getting together with family and much more. I enjoy watching local basketball games and visiting with friends.
Enjoy the season and enjoy going to games. Basketball is such a large part of Indiana.
Shonk is a 1960 graduate of Southport High School, a ’63 grad of Indiana Central College (now the University of Indianapolis) and a retired bus driver from Beech Grove Schools. He can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.