March Madness!!!

Go Butler! While it is a little odd for me to support any college except Wabash, in the final four of the NCAA tournament I am all for Butler. Raised in Indiana my Friday nights were filled with high school basketball. The film Hoosiers brings back those memories clear as a bell. The little guy school up against the giants of the nation – what’s not to love? Of course we didn’t always love Butler – they were one of our best rivals – DePauw being the other, of course. We loved to hate Butler and a trip to campus by a group of their guys intent on spreading a little blue paint around campus would spark a riot. Of course we did not have to worry as our Dean Kendall could quell a riot just by showing up at the scene.

In an interview with Susan Cantrell, Sheldon Vanauken [W1938] told of his prank on Butler on their home field. Van was a pilot and for the Butler game his Phi Gam Brothers made signs printed with “Wabash Always Fights.” Game day was cloudy but off they went in their flying machine. The men flew way down into the Butler Bowl and dropped their leaflets. I am sure it was quite a sight!

On Monday during Chapel the Dean called Van to his office. I gather that being called to Dean Kendall’s office was the one thing all students sought to avoid so Sheldon  was trembling as he walked into the office. The Dean said that  Vanauken could break his neck if he wanted to, but if he ever did it again in the name of Wabash he’d be dismissed. Next the federal agents came and, in a very friendly manner, because one of the agents said he had flown over downtown Dallas to wave at secretaries himself, they pulled Vanauken’s flying license.

I will close with a picture of our own 1922 team who were proclaimed “National Champions” at the tourney in Indianapolis. I believe that this tourney was the initial N.I.T. tourney and Wabash was one of the very few invited to participate. That team was pretty spectacular and with the tourney in Indianapolis, well…March Madness was in full swing at Wabash! Among the players on this great Wonder Five were Pete Thorn (16 letter athlete and winner of the John Maurice Butler Prize for academics), Alonzo Goldsberry (who would later coach at Wabash) and the tallest of them all – Maurice “Shang” Chadwick the namesake of our gymnasium. Shang funded the 1969 renovation.

Here is a little snippet telling about the dedication of the gym – at a home game with Butler!… From Some Little Giants by Max Servies, “The decade [1970's] opened with the dedication of Chadwick Court on February 9, at half‑time of the Butler game…a complete remodeling job on the fieldhouse portion of the gym.  It included a new roof, new lighting, completely refinished floor, new scoreboards and newly painted exterior and interior.”

L-R Grater, Nurnberger, Roll, Burdette, Shelley, Thorn, Schanlaub, Crane, Goldsberry, Adam, Peare and Chadwick.

Beth Swift
Wabash College