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CCSC Athletics and Arts: A Proud Tradition of Success

Sports and Dance within the Crawfordsville Community School Corporation are synonymous with the word success.

 When one looks at the accomplishments of Crawfordsville High School athletics over the years, it is obvious that the Athenians have put together quite a prolific resume. In fact, only a handful of Indiana high schools similar in size to CHS can match the Athenian athletic success. Historically, the Gold and Blue can boast of six team state championships, 41 individual state titles, three state runner-up teams and 10 individual second-place performances.

Crawfordsville is widely known as the birthplace of Indiana basketball because the first hoops contest was played in the Athens City. This, without a doubt, aided the Gold and Blue in capturing the first Indiana State Basketball crown in 1911. But the Athenians have also won team state titles in baseball, women’s tennis and men’s golf.

In the last 25 years, the Athenians have become one of the state’s most prolific baseball programs. Under the guidance of Hall of Fame Coach John Froedge, the CHS resume is one of the best in the state: 23 Sagamore Conference titles; 17 sectional titles including eight consecutive from 2006-2013; five regional championships; two semi-state titles; and, most impressively, two Class 3A  state titles in 2008 and 2011. In the last 25 years, the Athenians have won 20 or more games 19 times with an average season record of 24-8. 

 Those two title runs, each culminating with a victory over Mishawaka Marian at Victory Field in Indianapolis, certainly had a positive effect on the school and the Crawfordsville community. In fact, on both trips to Victory Field, Athenian nation produced the largest crowds of any of the other participating teams, regardless of school size.

In 1975, highly successful Indiana State Tennis Hall of Fame Coach, Anita Rupar, led the Lady Athenian tennis team to a state championship. It was first time the IHSAA held a state tournament in women’s tennis. Sara McGaughey and Melinda Fertig won the doubles title, propelling Rupar’s talented netters to the team state title.

During her successful, 30-year tenure at the helm of the Athenian women’s tennis program and her 12-year stint running the CHS men’s tennis program, Rupar became sort of a coaching icon, not only in Crawfordsville and Montgomery County, but throughout the state as well. She capped her illustrious career by being named to the Indiana State Tennis Hall of Fame.

Teams wearing the Gold and Blue were quite successful during the decade of the ’50s, winning state championships in golf in 1954 and 1956 with a state runner-up showing sandwiched in between. And, of course, several people still living in the Athens City remember the 1958 basketball team’s magnificent run through the state tourney before falling to Fort Wayne South in the championship contest. And this was well before the advent of class basketball in Indiana.

Crawfordsville’s list of individual state champions is also quite impressive. Athenian performers in swimming, track, wrestling, golf and tennis have garnered no less than 41 state crowns, 33 in men’s competition and eight in women’s sports. The Gold and Blue can also boast of 10 state runner-up showings, all in men’s competition.

Other than baseball, no Athenian sport has been more dominant over the last 30 years than swimming, as CHS swimmers have claimed 18 individual state titles. Sally Johnson was an exceptional performer in the mid and late ‘70s, winning a total of four state titles in three events, the 100-yard free, the 200-yard individual medley, and the 100-yard fly. Josh Mikesell captured five state titles from the mid to late ‘80s in the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard backstroke. Nick Arzner was no-less impressive in the mid-nineties, garnering four state titles in the 100 and 200-yard freestyle events. The Humphrey girls-- Holly and Debi-- account for three of CHS’s swim titles. Holly won the 50 and 100 free in 1988, and Debi followed with a 100-yard butterfly title in 1990. Other Athenian individual state swim championships have been won by Chris Malott (50-free, 1984) and Chad Ames (100-fly, 2002).

From 1950 to 1985, Athenian wrestlers added to the CHS tradition by claiming eight individual state wrestling crowns: Hal Utterback (1953), Ed Bayless (1954), Larry Chambers (1954), Robert Blacker (1956), James O’Dell (1958), Bob Watson (1963), Rex Ryker (1964), and Doug Haslam (1985). In addition, eight other blue and gold grapplers obtained runner-up status during that time span.

In Boys Track, Athenian performers have 11 state titles to their credit. The Churchill brothers—David and Phil—account for three of those championship efforts. David captured the high jump crown in 1969, then followed that up with a long jump championship 1970.  Phil then accomplished what David had two years earlier by winning the 1971 high jump crown.

In 1964, Stan Hultz gave the Gold and Blue its lone individual golf title, and, as mentioned earlier, McGaughey and Fertig won the state tennis doubles title helping Rupar’s clan capture the state tournament in 1975.

An added bonus to the Athenian state championship runs has been the naming of five IHSAA Mental Attitude Award winners. Perhaps the best-documented of these in Athenian annals is Dick Haslam’s Arthur L. Trester Mental Attitude Award following the Athenians’ 1958 basketball runner-up performance in state tourney.

In 1964, Rex Ryker added an exclamation point to his title performance in wrestling by being named recipient of the Ward E. Brown Mental Attitude Award. In 1988, Josh Mikesell won the Herman F. Keller Mental Attitude Award following his several swim titles. And most recently, two Athenian baseball players garnered mental attitude awards to help cap the two Gold and Blue championships. Justin Wright received the honor in 2008, and Adam Boehm did likewise in 2011. 

Several Athenian programs have also captured enough sectional championships over the years to rank among the state’s best in that category. The men’s tennis and women’s swimming teams rank eighth in the state in sectional titles, while the men’s swimming program has amassed enough sectional titles to rank 19th. With 41 sectional crowns, the CHS Boys Basketball program ranks 21st in the state. Women’s tennis and baseball now rank 25th and 29th respectively.

No doubt, many in the Crawfordsville community have fond memories of Athenian Athletics, some dating back farther than others. Regardless, those that have worn the Gold and Blue in athletic competition or have watched their favorite Athenian performers from the stands, have done so with a deep sense of pride and tradition.

When one looks at the accomplishments of the Crawfordsville High School Dance Team, the word success doesn’t really do justice to a program that has garnered so many championships that it ranks among the state’s elite.

 Under the guidance of Coach Tami Haas, the CHS Blue Illusions have fashioned quite a prolific resume: Eight state championships, seven national titles, four international crowns and a National Academic Team of the Year Award. Three CHS dancers have won IHSDTA scholarships, and four CHS performers have been named to the Academic All- state Team. Several former Blue Illusions have gone on to dance on college teams, and three have distinguished themselves as Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders.

Dance is certainly a commitment at Crawfordsville High School. Dancers representing the Gold and Blue are required to be academically and behaviorally top-notch inside and outside of the classroom and to treat each other and staff members with respect. And, it goes without saying, these talented performers are expected to take great pride in school they represent.

This success story has been written with hard work and thorough preparation. Dance practices can last from 90 minutes to three hours. During this time, the team prepares for game performances, sideline routines, public shows, and contests. This includes perfecting their spacing, timing, musicality and delivery of routines. During the contest season, Blue Illusion dancers spend up to 12 hours a week preparing for the upcoming contests.

Prior to the season, Haas and her staff outline team expectations and assist the squad in setting lofty goals. During the strenuous campaign, Haas strives in providing a safe, loving, compassionate atmosphere that fosters teamwork.  And like any highly successful coach, Haas is not satisfied to allow her team to rest on past accomplishments.  She is never satisfied with where the team is currently, but sees the greatest challenge as finding ways to improve on the team’s past success.”

Upon graduation, four former Blue Illusions—Cristin Coons, Leanna Elmore, Kaitlyn Nordenbrock and Allyson Minch Gordon—continued utilizing their dance talents at Purdue University. Elmore and former CHS dancers, Sharlotte Harrington and Sophie Templeton, continued their dancing careers as part of the highly-regarded Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders.

As with other athletic teams, a good feeder system is vital to future success. The Athenian dance program certainly has that with the award winning Crawfordsville Middle School Starlettes, under the direction of Haas’s mother, Reda Hubbard, and Haas’s sister, Heidi Gambrel.  The very talented elementary Diamond Elite team, directed by the aforementioned Coons, completes the feeder system.

The Crawfordsville Middle School Starlettes Dance Team dates back to 1998 when the school was named Tuttle Middle School. The Starlettes were state champions that year, and over the course of the next 13 years have put together quite an impressive resume: 10 state championships and 12 National titles. The Starlettes have also been recognized and awarded at several camps and competitions for their technique, showmanship, choreography, and costumes.

The Diamond Elite Dance Team provides training and experience for third through fifth graders who are interested in becoming members of the CMS and CHS dance teams. This background and knowledge helps prepare the young dancers going into tryouts. Since its inception, The Diamond Elite Dance Team has won numerous championships in that age division. Besides competitions, the team dances at pre-game and halftime of athletic events and does performances at several community events.

For Tami Haas, her staff, and team members, dance at CHS is certainly a commitment. High goals and expectations, hard work, and a feeder system that includes award winning middle school and elementary programs, have created a formula for achievement equaled by few other programs throughout the state.

 The Crawfordsville Community School Corporation is proud of its many accomplishments and successes over the years. State championship athletic teams and individuals and an award winning dance program certainly add to that pride.