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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Huter's influence went beyond basketball court

Friday, February 11, 2011

Coach Jim Huter speaks following his Louisville Male High School's 1970 Kentucky State Championship. Huter spent the last 20 years of his career in Putnam County as a coach and athletic director.
GREENCASTLE -- Two-time Kentucky state champion. Four hundred forty eight wins as varsity basketball coach. Forty seven years as an educator. Kentucky Colonel. Sagamore of the Wabash.

Looking back on the life of "Coach" Jim Huter, who passed away on Jan. 30, the list of accomplishments goes on and on.

It's easy to get caught up in them.

But when speaking about any good man -- particularly a teacher -- the truth isn't in the numbers. Instead, the story comes from those he guided and inspired.

And inspire he did, as a teacher, coach, administrator, mentor and father.

"He really let us know that we could be whatever we wanted, no matter what," said daughter Jill McCammack, one of Huter's six children.

McCammack and older sister Judi Huter followed in their father's footsteps and became teachers. Jill teaches fifth grade at Fillmore Elementary, while Judi is an English teacher at Terre Haute South High School.

"He gave us an appreciation of education," McCammack said. "He never pushed us. He actually said, 'Are you sure you want to go into education?'"

While her dad warned McCammack teaching wasn't a path to riches, he also told her it could be a fulfilling career if one was cut out for it. She saw the way he enjoyed what he did.

"Not a whole lot of people can say that they enjoy going to work. Sometimes it's just a job. But he showed us that if we really got into it, we could enjoy what we did. That's a rare occasion, I think," McCammack said. "I think just knowing that he enjoyed doing what he did led me to what I wanted to do. It was a passion for him; it wasn't just, 'Well, I gotta go to work.' I wanted to make sure that I was able to do something like that."

As a teacher and coach, Huter's sphere of influence extended well beyond his own home.

In three years as varsity boys' basketball coach at Greencastle, Huter's record was sub-.500 (30-38), but he helped rebuild the program with a young squad, and led the Tiger Cubs to two sectional finals.

Jim Spencer played two years for Huter at GHS. He then followed in the coach's footsteps, teaching and coaching at both Greencastle and North Putnam.

He currently teaches social and coaches track at North Putnam. He is an assistant coach for DePauw's men's basketball team.

Through Spencer, Huter's practice habits had a profound effect on players several generations younger than the coach.

"We ran an unbelievable amount of sprints in practice with Coach Huter," Spencer said. "I thought he was crazy at the beginning, but then I noticed how much easier the second and fourth quarters were for us than our opponents and I begin to believe in the sprints. Anyone that played for Coach Huter can probably still remember the distance and the time to beat for each day of the week.

"I believe that extensive conditioning has been a very important part of the success of the teams I coached in high school," he added. "So I guess my former players can put the blame on Coach Huter, not me, for the insane amount of conditioning they experienced in high school."

Spencer said Huter chose to get young players to the varsity level as quickly as possible. In this way, he helped build the program for the coming years.

"I always started and played many freshman at the varsity level," Spencer said. "This allows you to make a run for state when these players are juniors and seniors because of their extensive experience."

During the largest part of his time in Putnam County, the man known to many simply as "Coach" was, in fact, not a coach. After three years at Greencastle, he spent 17 years as South Putnam High School's athletic director before retiring in 1994.

Current SPHS principal Kieth Puckett coached boys' basketball during Huter's tenure. He remembers Huter as a great advocate for the school.

"Boy, was he a defender of South Putnam," Puckett said. "Probably the thing he did best for us was represented us statewide, conference-wide, countywide. He defended South Putnam and took care of our interests."

Having such an accomplished coach for a boss was of great benefit to Puckett as a basketball coach.

"He would come through practice, and without even trying to tell me things or teach me things, I would learn from him," Puckett said. "Just in having general discussions about players and asking, 'What do you think about this kid?' he would point something out that I had never seen.

"He gave me a phrase, 'Have them keep the ball above their elbows,' and it just served me really well. (It was) little things like that, that a veteran knows," Puckett added.

Huter drew people to him, and it was about a lot more than basketball. Anyone with "Coach" stories talks about the way he always seemed to be in a crowd.

"He was one of the most positive, outgoing citizens Greencastle has had," Greencastle City Councilor Jinsie Bingham said recently. "I never saw him standing alone. He just had a magical power that people just gravitated toward him."

His family remembers this quality with amusement.

McCammack said in going to an Indiana University game or a Colts game, her dad always seemed to find someone he knew.

"My kids will tell you that, no matter where we would go, he met somebody that knew him," McCammack said. "The standing joke was, you had to go there at least an hour early. If you didn't, you'd never make it to your sporting event before halftime because he knew so many people."

That magnetism must spring from the glowing descriptions everyone seems to have of the coach. Terms like "good man" and "caring" and "gentleman" come up a lot.

"I'm honored to count him as one of my mentors in life -- and not just in sports, in life," Puckett said. "He really was a gentleman, knew his manners and knew how to do the right thing at the right time."

"He was always there to offer advice and support and I greatly enjoyed talking with him about sports. And he was very interested in my children as students and athletes," Spencer said. "Additionally, he remained very informed about Putnam County athletes and took a great interest in the success of all student athletes, regardless of their sport or high school."

The most fitting way to remember the man might just be in a few simple words from a loving daughter.

"He was just a good man. That's not easy to say about a lot of people," McCammack said.

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He was a keeper.

-- Posted by townielove on Fri, Feb 11, 2011, at 3:14 AM

He was a great man, he made sure he found my records from South Putnam that my coachs had lost or thrown away. He didnt have to do any of that. He was person that everyone was alway glad to see. Rest well great man. X-South Putnam Player

-- Posted by enough 1 on Fri, Feb 11, 2011, at 4:04 AM

A true Legend! Sure will be missed.

-- Posted by Hungry&Fat on Fri, Feb 11, 2011, at 7:18 AM

Coach was great man treated everyone the same, not the name game that hs ruined this county of sports for years, he will be missed dearly.......SEMPER FI.....

-- Posted by tru story on Fri, Feb 11, 2011, at 9:05 AM

I have known Coach Huter my entire life! Respected him greatly. He was a WONDERFUL people person. Always asked how parents and siblings were doing everytime I would see him. He was truly remarkable!

Pertaining to your article Mr. Asst. Editor, I'm not so sure you got the best sources you could have possibly gotten! The 2 in question, I won't mention any names but they both have been coaches, are suspect to say the least. Having known "Coach" ALL my life I know there are many many people you could have interviewed for this article that knew "Coach" better than those 2. They could have given you true insight to the man and stories that could make you cry, get excited, and just be in awe to say the least.

Let me also put this out there. I am not pertaining to myself when I said there are others that knew him better than those 2. I just know that I have known the man as I said my entire life and believe it not I have known the other 2 coaches mentioned in this article the majority of my life. They were not cut from the same clothe by no means!! Coach believed in honor, dignity, integrity, and loyalty! Those 2 mentioned in the article have NONE of those qualities.

Not to get off the subject and bash the 2 men you interviewed for this article even though I could go on and on. Mr. Asst. Editor I just hope next time you would spend a little more time calling people talking to them finding out those who really knew the person you are wanting to ask them about. Someone that spent some actual time not just a small portion with them. Someone who isn't just a name but has true substance also.

Yeah, "Coach" was his name but anyone that came into contact with him knew he was special, they knew he had substance, they knew he truly cared when he asked you questions about your family.

Can the 2 guys you interviewed for this story truly say that? Can others truly say that about them??

-- Posted by bottomline on Fri, Feb 11, 2011, at 12:57 PM

This was a man who will be missed. He treated everyone who came in contact with him with respect. He had time for people and was a positive person. He loved basketball and he loved people. There aren't many like him around.

-- Posted by justasking on Fri, Feb 11, 2011, at 1:43 PM


You should be ashamed of yourself! You are using a tribute to a wonderful man to bash other educators and coaches in Putnam County. I knew Coach Huter for over thirteen years and he would disapprove of your tatics! Kieth Puckett knew Coach for over 30 YEARS! I never once heard Coach Huter speak of Kieth without anything but respect and admiration, and Vise Versa. You may not like or respect the man, but don't take advantage of this tribute to make petty comments. That is not something Coach Huter would have done and he would be ashamed of anyone he called friend doing it!

-- Posted by pasteagle on Fri, Feb 11, 2011, at 11:36 PM

Pasteagle, THANK YOU!!! I agree with you. Bottomline, if you 'respected him greatly' why is it that you made the comments you did and disrespected the men you were referring to? In your disrespect for those two, you have disrespected Coach and all that he stood for! I too knew Coach well. I attended South Put and remember many wonderful things about him. He believed in 'his kids' and never once let any of us down. He was a great role model, and I for one feel blessed for having known him and having him be a part of my life. He will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.

-- Posted by churchmouse on Sat, Feb 12, 2011, at 12:51 AM

Agreed not the best place for it but it needed to be said because it is the truth!

-- Posted by bottomline on Thu, Feb 17, 2011, at 11:03 AM

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