At halftime of tonight’s boys basketball game vs. Pendleton Heights, the Greenfield-Central Athletic Hall of fame will induct its two newest honorees: Gary Pence, and four members of the Casto family (Gary, Jackie, Matt and Jason).
Perhaps no one has been quite as involved or worn as many hats as Gary Pence when it comes to Greenfield-Central athletics.
Pence started out in the mid-1970s as a coach on the football team, aiding the Cougars to the 1975 Class 2A state finals game, which took place at G-C.
Four years later, Pence tutored the school’s first individual state champion as wrestler Terry Edon took home the state title at 155 pounds.
Pence referred to those two instances as his coaching highlights.
“When I first got to (G-C), it was a real exciting time to be there,” explained Pence, who also coached tennis at G-C. “They were great experiences.”
Over the years, Pence was a volunteer youth coach for multiple sports, and started the high school’s weightlifting program in 1977.
Though he gave up coaching five years ago, Pence still has dozens of former students he still keeps in touch with.
“I’ve watched them grow up, and now they have kids,” he said. “They still call me ‘coach.’ We’re pretty close.”
One of Jason Casto’s last wishes was for his family to nominate his older brother, Matt, for the Greenfield-Central Athletic Hall of Fame.
Instead, the two brothers, along with their parents, are obtaining that honor.
Even as a young boy, much of Matt’s athletic spirit came from the fact his wheelchair-bound younger brother could not be out on the field with him.
“I was living the double life for him,” Matt said of Jason, who passed away last June. “That’s where I got a lot of my drive.”
Jason channeled that same Casto mettle into earning 10 varsity letters as a football, basketball and baseball manager.
Jackie, the boys’ mother, believes Jason didn’t miss any football games during his G-C tenure, even when it was raining or bitterly cold.
“He loved sports as much as Matt,” said Jackie, who is being inducted along with her husband, Gary, for their contributions as ‘Super Fans.’
Matt garnered five varsity letters in football, track and athletic training while also involving himself the broadcasts of Cougar sports.
The 2003 G-C graduate was Greenfield-Central’s TV sports director and did both play by play and color commentary for the boys basketball team.
Matt said Jason was especially close with his graduating class.
“We kind of adopted him as our teammate. He never had a bad day,” Matt explained. “He liked to be around everyone, they treated him like he was one of them.”
Jackie never took the kindness shown by Matt’s teammates and so many others for granted.
“When you have a disability and they treat you like you’re on the team with them … the guys all made him feel really special,” she said. “He loved being involved with the sports.”
As far as what his emotions may feel like tonight, Matt said he’s still trying to wrap his mind around the honor.
“It’s something Jason and I talked about over the last year. He would be tickled to death. It’s an honor to be up there not only with my brother, but with my parents. It’s icing on the cake,” he said. “That’s where we grew up. We left our legacy. It makes you feel good; it’s a real nice piece of humble pie.”
HALL OF FAME NOTES
>>On Dec. 15, New Palestine High School inducted 12 athletes and coaches into its Wall of Fame, as previously detailed in the Daily Reporter on Dec. 12. The honorees were: Jacob Barnes, Alexa Cavin, Brandon Collins, Audrey East, Nicole Fluegel, Lauren Kehrt, Sonya Napariu, Josh Penley, Connor Robinson, Connor Simmons, Corinne Zehner and former coach Diane Roudebush.
>>Mt. Vernon High School does not have an athletic hall of fame.