Southport High School graduate Louie Dampier was one of just two players who played nine years for the same ABA team; he was with the Kentucky Colonels.
I lived in Southern California when the ABA was launched. Louie and I got in contact and had the chance to get together a couple of times when his team traveled to California to play the Anaheim Amigos. I lived in Garden Grove and Anaheim was an adjoining city.
A couple of years later I was back in Indianapolis, where Ken Otto and I operated The Link Driving Center, a commercial driving school located on 62nd Street in Broad Ripple. Lots of times we would have a two-hour class that started at 7 p.m. Sometimes we could jump in a car and get to the fairgrounds in time for the second half of a Pacers game.
A few years later I was living in an apartment on the Northwestside. One afternoon as I was returning home I recognized Bob Netolicky coming out of an apartment in my court. I found out that he was my neighbor. He was a well-known player for the Pacers. After retiring he opened a bar in the Meadows Shopping Center. It was a fun place to visit after Pacer games.
Some local players on the team were Rick Mount and George McGinnis. Rick, who played for Lebanon High and Purdue, was signed by the Pacers right out of college. George played for the Pacers on two occasions: 1971-75 and 1980-82. He attended Washington High and Indiana University. His 1969 high school team went undefeated and won the state championship.
For several years I worked a part-time job driving a charter bus here in Indianapolis. I also operated a small industrial supply business. Most of the time I drove local trips and I worked with several NBA teams when they came to play the Pacers. I have shared stories in the column about chauffeuring the Bulls and Celtics when they were in town for a game.
It was a blast to get to know some of the players, coaches and support staff. Dennis Rodman and Michael Jordan were playing with Chicago. I also remember working with the Celtics and driving during Larry Bird’s last visit to Indianapolis as a player. Now Larry is the president of the Pacers.
Basketball season is fast approaching. This should be a wonderful and exciting season. I’ll be following Beech Grove and Southport. I’m looking forward to seeing Katie Gerald’s women’s team at Marian University defend its NAIA title.
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.