GREENFIELD — His time at Greenfield-Central High School was well spent, both on the court and in the choir.
In the choir?
Former Cougar basketball star Tate Hall wrapped up his collegiate career this winter.
He was an integral part of multi-year March Madness runs of the Loyola Ramblers men’s basketball program.
From an upset of top-seed Illinois in the 2021 NCAA tournament to the prayers and advice from 102-year old team chaplain Sister Jean, Hall’s time at the Chicago school proved to be a very special four years.
To add to his list of great memories in the Windy City, the lifelong Chicago Cubs fan, with Loyola teammate Will Alcock, got a chance to sing “Take Me Out to The Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field.
Quite a ride for the kid out of Greenfield.
“I was in choir in high school. I’ll give myself a C-plus, B-minus maybe, not terrible, but not the best,” Hall said of his singing abilities.
Hall said the head coaches usually are the ones that sing during the stretch on College Night at Wrigley Field, but Loyola coach Drew Valentine knew Hall was a big Cubs fan and asked if he wanted to sing.
“Out of the blue, (coach Valentine) text me and Will and asked if we wanted to sing the seventh inning stretch with him,” Hall said. “I’m a huge Cubs fan, grew up a Cubs fan, as soon as he said that, I said, ‘Yea, let’s do it!’”
The Cubs won that night over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Just add that up as another win for Hall.
That’s all he wanted to do during his Loyola basketball career, even if it meant having a lesser role on the team.
Sitting out a season after transferring from the University of Indianapolis, the 6-feet, 6-inch guard/forward jumped right into the Ramblers starting lineup. He was an All-Missouri Valley Conference selection, averaging 12.7 points per game. He was third-team all-conference and part of the league’s All-Newcomer team. He started all 32 games and averaged nearly 33 minutes per game playing time.
Things changed in his final two seasons. With the makeup of the Ramblers roster, Hall was now coming off the bench. His time on the floor lessened, but his passion to win continued.
He adjusted to the new role that switched him from starter to sub.
“Tate is the ultimate culture guy and was a huge part of our success the last few years,” Valentine said. “He always put the team first and that was reflected in his willingness to come off the bench after starting his first year at Loyola. Tate’s toughness was unmatched and in addition to being able to score the ball, he was one of the leaders of our defensive unit that has ranked among the best in the nation, while also providing so many hustle plays that weren’t reflected in the box score.”
It was a new job, but the wins kept on coming. For Hall, that was the most important thing.
He was still playing important minutes, just not as many as he did during his first season on the floor. He was often the first player off the bench, and was averaging around 21 minutes per game. He was doing a lot of things you don’t always see in the box score. He was ready wherever he was needed and he returned to the starting lineup for his final 10 games.
“I was someone that had every type of role you could imagine throughout my time at Loyola,” Hall said. “My first year playing I was one of the main guys. I was someone that got a lot of plays called for me, got a lot of shots, scored a lot, and was all-conference. We added some other guys and my role changed and that was something I embraced. I am not someone that is selfish. I am not worried about me. I just wanted to win and win championships like we did.”
It still didn’t make the transition easy. It was still an adjustment. Hall said family, coaches and teammates helped.
“Being able to fill those roles, not everyone would have reacted the same way I did,” Hall said. “It was hard from being one of the main guys to being a role player. That can be hard on anyone. It was for me. They had the best intentions and I just wanted to accomplish the main goal and that was to win and go far in the tournament.”
“I relied a lot on parents, coaches,” Hall continued. “It’s not like (the team) lost confidence in me. It was how the makeup of the team went. It was hard, but we’re trying to win games. Loyola preaches culture. We have a lot of great guys in the program. I leaned on them, too.”
With the changing of his roles on the team, Hall truly did have all the experiences imaginable during his time in a Ramblers uniform, including building a relationship with the now-iconic Sister Jean.
“Everyone loves her and I love her, too,” Hall said. “Making it to that age is amazing in itself. What a lot of people don’t know about her is she is super sharp. She sent us an e-mail after every game. Sometimes she gave us pointers on what we could do better. She was kind of a coach in that sense. She has meant a lot to our team and program. I will always cherish having talks and that relationship with her.”
Hall is back home in Greenfield seeking out that next chapter in his life.
At Loyola he got both an undergraduate degree in Finance as well as his MBA (Master of Business Administration). He is currently looking for a job, but still would like to be a part of the game of basketball, whether it’s coaching or just playing in a recreation league.
Whatever the future brings, he’ll always have great memories of his time in Chicago.
“It was way better than I expected. It exceeded every expectation I put both on myself and the experience,” Hall said. “When I transferred there it was the year after they went to the Final 4. I’m a competitive person, you want to live up to the expectations the fans have and what the coaching staff was working for.
“Going to the tournament twice in back-to-back years, getting back to the Sweet 16, winning two more Missouri Valley championships and we won a lot of games, it’s very hard to describe what Loyola means to me now. Being a part of it and accomplishing as much as we did, every expectation was way exceeded and I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to go there and experience Chicago and be a part of that Loyola alumni now.”