HANCOCK COUNTY — Coinciding with the week of Thanksgiving, area athletic teams and departments honored and gave thanks to those that have been their influences, icons and supporters.
At home events at Greenfield-Central and New Palestine, basketball and wrestling programs paid tribute to individuals that made their mark, but are no longer here to thank in person.
On Tuesday, at Greenfield-Central High School, the Cougars and Beech Grove boys basketball teams played for the Matt English Traveling Trophy.
In its second year, the series was created to endow the life and legacy of Matt English, a 1,000-point scorer and 500-plus rebounder for the Cougars from 1988-1991. English went on to play collegiately at Bethel University in Tennessee, where he became the program’s all-time leader in points (2,530) and rebounds (1,531).
He later became the head basketball coach at Beech Grove, mentoring the Hornets from 2008-2018 before losing a hard-fought battle with brain cancer.
The winningest coach in Beech Grove history, English’s legacy was his “We Before Me” philosophy.
The engraving on the traveling trophy reads “In Memory of Matt English…Teacher, Mentor and Coach in the path to one’s journey through life. Greenfield-Central High School Basketball Player 1988-1991. Beech Grove High School Basketball Coach 2008-2018. We Before Me!”
Prior to Tuesday’s game, at Greenfield-Central, the Cougars recognized members of the English family. Greenfield-Central won the game against the defending Class 3A state champions and will have their name and year engraved on the trophy.
It’ll be back up for grabs when the two teams play at Beech Grove next season.
On Wednesday, also at Greenfield-Central High School, wrestlers from Greenfield-Central and Pendleton Heights grappled for the Kriebel-Hamant Memorial Trophy.
It’s named after coaches from both programs. Kriebel was a coach at Pendleton Heights, who passed away unexpectedly in 2013. Ed Hamant, had been a coach at G-C for 41 years. He, too, passed away suddenly in 2021.
Wednesday’s dual meet was the second time the two schools competed for the memorial trophy, which is an engraved toolbox.
Prior to the match, G-C coach Josh Holden was presented with a plaque in honor of Hamant. The last line of the plaque was inscribed, “No other individual has given so much to the G-C wrestling program as coach Ed. His legacy will forever live on in the hearts and minds of those lucky enough to have called him coach, mentor and friend.”
The Cougars won the dual meet and kept the prized toolbox under their watch. Though the teams will meet again as part of the Hoosier Heritage Conference tournament, the next time the traveling trophy will be on the line is next season when the teams meet in Pendleton.
New Palestine High School’s Athletic Department, on Wednesday, paid tribute to one of its longest and greatest supporters, Van Bush.
Bush passed away suddenly this summer. He seldom missed a Dragon sporting event, home or away and was a big supporter and contributor to youth sports programs in the area for many years.
Before the tip-off of the Dragons boys basketball season opener, New Palestine athletic director Al Cooper presented a seat plaque in Bush’s honor, located where he always sat, front row, halfcourt across from the scorer’s table.
The plaque reads, “In Memory of Van Bush, #1 Dragon Fan 1942-2022.”