A former East St. Louis, Ill., football coach has been awarded the U.S. Attorney General's Commendation award--usually reserved for law officers--for his efforts to expose corruption in the long-troubled 12,000-student school system.
Bob Shannon, 53, whose 25 years of coaching the East St. Louis High School Flyers included a 44-game winning streak, six state championships, and two national championships, was forced out of his coaching job in 1995 after he went public with allegations that Arthur May, then the school's athletic director, and other school officials were stealing athletic department funds.
Mr. Shannon was presented with the award last month by W. Charles Grace, the U.S. attorney for Southern Illinois, on the steps of the federal courthouse in East St. Louis.
"Although this award cannot restore the things you have lost, it can and does stand for what you did not lose: your integrity, your pride, and your professional character," Mr. Grace said.
"This is a good community, and you are good people. Don't let the bad guys win," responded Coach Shannon, who is now football coach and assistant athletic director for rival Alton High School.
Mr. May was sentenced to two years in prison in March for embezzling some $90,000 from the district and filing false tax returns.
A Kansas high school coach is hoping to turn his appreciation for old-fashioned basketball into a history book.
Brian Stucky, an art and photography teacher and girls' basketball coach in the 325-student Goessel district between Wichita and Salina, has spent the past year traveling the state to document the architecture and history of classic old gyms. He's interested in their vaulted ceilings, intimate courts, and crowded rows of stacked courtside seating--along with tales of the famous who have played and coached in them over the years.
"Basketball is my passion," he said in a recent interview. "But it's a different game, a different sport, than it was years ago."
Driving Mr. Stucky's work is the fact that the old gyms are being routinely gutted and replaced by multipurpose auditoriums.
"The heart and souls of Kansas towns are being torn down," Mr. Stucky, 45, said. "[Old gyms] have such character, and they have such amazing stories to tell."
Mr. Stucky's photographs and accompanying essays are currently on display at the Emil Kym Art Gallery at Goessel High School and will move to the Kansas State University Sports Hall of Fame in Manhattan this summer.
--KERRY A. WHITE [email protected]
Vol. 17, Issue 36, Page 13