Second class inducted to Hall
Brian Smith, Contributing Writer
There was plenty of conversation to be had prior to and after the ceremony inducting the second Corydon Central Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday night in the school’s auditorium.
The buzz of stories, reunions and smiles were hard to not notice within the walls of the dimly lit room which soon turned shining lights on the inductees.
It continues to be a stellar group of former student-athletes being added to the inaugural class, which was a year ago. The 2019 version saw multi-sport stars Dana Beaven Mattingly and Doug Bates enter along with former basketball player Frank O’Bannon, who later played hoops at Indiana University and volleyball in the Air Force before becoming the state’s governor.
With several current Panthers in attendance, Corydon Central athletic director John Atkins pointed out the reminder to “appreciate the past.”
Polly O’Bannon Zoeller accepted the induction of her father, Frank O’Bannon. A 1948 graduate, O’Bannon was an all-conference basketball player for the Panthers before going on to play at Indiana University.
Basketball wasn’t his lone sport as he later was twice named All-American in men’s volleyball while in the Air Force. Post-sports, O’Bannon entered politics, eventually becoming Indiana’s governor.
“This is a big honor to have my father honored,” said Zoeller. “He was always proud to have grown up in Harrison County and to have been a Corydon Panther.”
Zoeller shared a story of her father, then writing for The Corydon Democrat, taking her to a basketball game at the old Corydon Central High School gymnasium. Perched in the press box above the boys’ locker room, Zoeller held on to the memories of watching the game with her father.
“I’ll never forget that night,” she said.
Sports played a factor in strengthening O’Bannon’s future in politics, according to Zoeller.
“He often attributed his leadership skills to what he learned when he was a student here,” she added.
Mattingly, a 2005 graduate, was a standout in volleyball, basketball and softball, earning multiple All-Mid-Southern Conference honors in each sport. She went on to have a successful career playing basketball at Bellarmine University after being named an Indiana Junior All-star (2004) and Senior all-star (2005).
At the podium, Mattingly said getting the Hall of Fame call gave her a “gut punch.”
“What had I done to deserve this honor?” she recalled asking herself. “Playing sports was fun. I thought, ‘Why should someone be honored for just having fun for four years?’ ”
After some reflection, Mattingly realized her success was built around those surrounding her, including coaches, teammates, family and the community.
She pointed to former softball coaches Joe Oakes and J.R. Drummond for making softball “fun.” She credited former Corydon Central volleyball and softball coach Kim Briscoe for pushing her to be more mentally tough through intense practices. When talking about girls’ basketball coach Michael Uhl, Mattingly needed a few pauses to gather herself.
“Your basketball IQ is the highest of any coach I’ve ever played for, and I am continually impressed by your humility,” Mattingly said of Uhl. “Thank you for teaching me that being a good person is far more important than being a good basketball player.”
Mattingly went on to thank her parents and grandparents for their support, washing her ball uniforms and pushing her to compete. There was also a nod to her teammates, citing the importance of “chemistry, teamwork and communication,” toward team successes.
“When you see my name or statistics on a plaque, just know that I am not up here by myself,” she closed. “My success comes from the many people who helped get me here.”
Bates, a 1969 CCHS graduate, made his way north from Tennessee to accept the honor. Like Mattingly, he pointed out how he learned not only about the formation of the Hall of Fame, but getting the call.
A year ago, Eva Bates North teased him with a phone call that he didn’t make the first class. Then, a year later, Atkins made the usually talkative Bates mumble.
“I was stuttering and couldn’t say much,” he said. “It was exciting and means a lot to me.”
By the end of the evening, Bates put on his letterman’s jacket before talking with the Corydon Central boys’ basketball team.
Bates played a multitude of sports: baseball, basketball, football along with track and field. He went on to play collegiate baseball and basketball at Vanderbilt University.
Coming from humble beginnings, Bates said it was the shepherd-like Corydon community that steered him in the right direction.
“Our neighbors were like our parents,” he said. “We could play with other children and, when we got out of line, our neighbors were like parents to us. It was a good thing.”
Bates started going to high school games while in middle school. From there, he saw he could excel in sports.
He said former football coach Joe Miles would, on days Bates was scheduled to pitch in baseball, keep him grounded and filled with nourishment.
“His daughters would bring me food and drink so I could pitch in a ballgame that night without getting tired,” he said.
With a large gathering of family members in attendance, Bates had some emotional and joyous moments on stage.
“My heart is weeping with joy,” he said.