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By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Friends of Matt English showed their support for his ongoing battle against cancer Saturday at the unveiling of the new court named in his honor at Beech Grove High School. The event attracted former and current basketball players, athletic directors, coaches and hundreds of supporters. E
nglish, who coaches boys basketball at the school and continues to fight cancer after several chemotherapy treatments, was “humbled and grateful” for the honor. He fist-bumped supporters and spoke briefly while seated at a table with wife Angie, who teaches at nearby Hornet Park Elementary, and assistant coach Matt Renfro.
“I couldn’t trade my experience here for anyplace else,” English said. “There is none better than Beech Grove parents, students and players. … You give me five Beech Grove players who come out and play basketball hard, and that’s heaven for me.”
The court has been redone with improved lighting, a huge basketball depicted as the center jump circle, a honeycomb design in each free-throw lane and lettering “Matt English Court” on both sides of the floor with his famed slogans, “We Before Me” and “The Journey Begins Here,” and his signature. A letter from Beech Grove native and Marian University women’s basketball coach Katie Gearlds also praised English, who was presented with a Marian hoodie. Gearlds led Beech Grove to the 2003 3A girls basketball championship and was named Miss Indiana Basketball. Patrons mingled in the lobby before the gymnasium doors were opened. Many purchased
“Standing Tall Together” T-shirts with proceeds to benefit the English family. English is beginning his 11th season as head coach at Beech Grove where he also has served as athletic director since 2012. His teams have reached the sectional championship game for two consecutive years.
He was diagnosed with a brain tumor seven years ago and recently underwent another round of surgery. He returned to an early season practice last week. The first boys basketball game on the new court is tentatively scheduled Nov. 24 against Scecina, but that depends on how far the Crusaders advance in the state football tournament. The opener could be Dec. 8 against Manual.