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Forty-three years ago, Current Cloverdale High School boys' basketball coach Pat Rady, who graduated from Roachdale High School in 1959 and Hanover College in 1963, had just completed his first year of teaching and coaching the eighth grade basketball team in New Albany.
He was approached by Monroe township trustee Jewel Blue, a relative of current Cloverdale School Superintendent Carrie (Blue) Milner, about coaching the high school varsity basketball team at Bainbridge.
After careful consideration, he made a decision that would change both his life and his family's, and hundreds of young men who would play for him in the succeeding 42 seasons.
At the early age of 23, Rady decided to accept the position at Bainbridge.
His first season coaching at Bainbridge was a challenge for Rady, as he inherited a team that had graduated 11 seniors the previous season.
The 1964-65 Bainbridge Pointer team, with only three seniors Rick Parent, Joe Martin, and Gary Davis, ended the season with a 6-14 record, with eight of those losses by a combined total of 15 points. A disappointing loss in the sectional in the first game of the tournament, to a Cloverdale team, that advanced to the Lafayette semistate that year left Rady doubting whether he himself had the talent and the experience to lead the promising Bainbridge team the following season.
Fortunately, his principal, Cloverdale native Glen Steele, and two of his players, Larry Steele and Ron Rossok, talked him into returning for a second year coaching Bainbridge.
In the 1965-66 school year, Bainbridge High School had an enrollment of 208 students and the varsity basketball team consisted of Richard Branham, Larry Canada, Joe Dozier, Dick Evens, Bill Judy, Gary Martin, Dick McFarland, Ron Rossok, Larry Steele and Steve Sutherlin.
Rady coached that team to a 24-3 record, winning the Putnam County Tournament, and both sectional and regional championships. The season ended with a 78-74 loss to East Chicago Washington in the semifinal round of Lafayette semistate at Lambert Fieldhouse.
That team's success helped launch a coaching career that continues to this day, and began the path to Rady's election and induction into the Indiana High School Basketball Hall Of Fame in 2002.
In 2004, after coaching at Bainbridge, Winchester, Southmont, Shelbyville, and Terre Haute South, he returned to his roots in Putnam County to become the coach of the Cloverdale Clovers.
In his early years at Bainbridge, Rady's assistant coach was Jim Sharp, and his scorebook keeper was Bill Henson. Both would be by his side at Cloverdale.
The Clovers won 19 games in the 2004-05 season, and 17 games last season, but both teams were unable to win that elusive sectional title.
This year's team of Brandon Moon, Michael Neese, Michael Glassburn, Craig Blair, Seth Trinkle, Robbie Randall, Christian Cheatham, Ryan Shoulders, Kevin Gregg, Justin Hacker, Dane Grounds, Jason Salter and Ryan Dean faced a tough challenge, having lost 72 percent of the Clovers' scoring the previous year, due to graduation.
Rady, along with his staff of James (J.J.) Wade, Jeremy Simpson, Sharp and Dewey Garrett, answered the challenge, winning 18 games and leading Cloverdale to its first sectional championship in 24 years and the 10th in the school's history.
They did so by teaching the same things that Rady instilled in his players and the program at Bainbridge 43 years ago: Fundamentals. And that the team is always more important than the individual.
If you do the math, figuring that in every season there are 12 players each on varsity, junior varsity, and freshmen teams, 43 seasons times 36 equals 1,548 players who have been involved in Rady's basketball programs since the beginning of his coaching career.
Those 1,548 players, during their time playing in Rady-led programs, learned about fundamentals, dedication, commitment and teamwork in the game of basketball, but also many other things that would help them be better men, husbands, and fathers later in life: The value of family, friends, and community.
Rady credits his success to his wife, Cloverdale native Margaret (Huber), incidentally their first date was attending the 1965 state basketball finals at the Butler (Hinkle) Fieldhouse together with Jim and Jeannette Sharp, his sons Patrick and Michael, his players, coaches, principals, fellow teachers, janitors, fans and mentors, including his coach at Hanover, Dutch Struck, high school coaches Archie Chadd, Marion Crawley, and Frank Barnes, and many others too numerous to name.
Cloverdale lost in the regional semifinal game Saturday at Southridge to a powerful Providence team that went on to win the championship game that evening, advancing to the semistate at Southport next weekend.
The Cloverdale coaching staff, team members, students, and the community were all saddened by the loss to Providence Saturday afternoon, ending the Clovers' terrific season, but the memories of this special season and what it has meant to everyone involved, will last a lifetime, just like those from Bainbridge 41 years ago.