Hammond’s Moores hoping to build a bridge of tradition


Steve Hanlon Prep Beat

Hammond athletic director Larry Moore Sr. had a historic Hoosier Hysteria moment back in the summer of 1974. The standout basketball player made the Indiana All-Star team, but he didn’t get a lot of playing time.

He sat on the end of the bench with a small-school kid named Larry Bird. With a few seconds left in the game, the coach came down and told the two to go in. Bird told him to go fly a flip’n kite. Moore went in for the experience.

That’s where Hammond High used to be, always on the biggest stage of Indiana high school basketball. The ‘Cats have won 32 sectional championships, which is in the upper tier, but only two since class hoops began in 1998.

Hammond hasn’t cut down the sectional nets since 2005.

Larry Moore Jr., the son of the school’s AD, knows his current players are far removed from the glorious past. On Saturday at the school, he hopes to build a bridge from then to now.

The Wildcats For Ever Club is having a basketball reunion for all former players, coaches or fans. It will run from 2 to 5 p.m. The cost is $50, with all proceeds going to help the program. Tickets will be available at the door.

The theme for this reunion is “Building a Bridge of Tradition”.

“The idea came from my dad and Richard Hudson, a teammate of his in 1973-74,” Moore Jr. said. “We want our kids to see what it was like in the old days, what is possible, on and off the basketball floor.

“We want them to know these men walked the same hallways and have gone on and had great lives.”

Brian Banks from the early 1970s will be there, telling stories about playing at Nebraska and overseas. Former Purdue wide receiver Rodney Dennis will do the same. Jermain Boyette starred at Weber State and played 12 years overseas. David Hall played at Arkansas-Little Rock and Ball State.

The Moores also reached out to Rich Valavicius, who played for Bobby Knight’s 1976 undefeated national championship team at Indiana.

The keynote speaker will be Roland Parrish, a 1971 grad who won the state’s 800 and was an All-American at Purdue. But the bigger story is his success in business, owning 25-plus McDonald’s in Dallas.

His words will put to death the current nightmarish dream that many kids have now, “I’ll make it to the Big Ten and then the NBA.” His life story will give truth to the lies street agents tell kids every day.

You DO NOT have to be an athlete to be a success.

“I want our guys to bring back that rich tradition that the older guys fought hard for,” Moore Jr. said. “I want our guys to hear their stories. I want our guys to have that pride that the older guys had just putting on the Hammond High jersey.”

Moore Jr. started this campaign during last football season, where some alums came out and had a tailgate with the current players. A bond was started. Saturday’s dinner will take it to another level.

Gary blindly looked on when some of its premier schools started to slip. You can’t wait until the last day to put a Band-Aid on. Now is the time to act.

Great idea, fellas. Here’s hoping this event is a big success.