2015-12-22 / Front Page

Basketball Court At Cloverdale High School Named In Honor Of Former Coach, Educator

by Travis Curry
Editor


Former varsity boys’ basketball coach Al Tucker addresses the crowd during the recent dedication of the court that now bears his name at Cloverdale High School. Tucker graduated from Patricksburg High School in 1957. He spent his entire coaching career at Cloverdale High School. His career record stands at 256 wins and 133 losses. (Staff Photo) Former varsity boys’ basketball coach Al Tucker addresses the crowd during the recent dedication of the court that now bears his name at Cloverdale High School. Tucker graduated from Patricksburg High School in 1957. He spent his entire coaching career at Cloverdale High School. His career record stands at 256 wins and 133 losses. (Staff Photo) There have been plenty of accolades over the memorable career of former Cloverdale High School boys’ basketball coach Al Tucker.

An undefeated regular season, seven sectional championships, a pair of Indiana All-Stars, a Final Four appearance, and 256 career wins, but never before has he had his own basketball court.

That all changed before the Clovers took on the visiting Southmont Mounties on December 5th.

Surrounded by family, friends, and former players, the high school honored Tucker’s memorable coaching career and his continued community service by naming the court, “Tucker Court.”


Al Tucker and his wife, Joan, share a laugh during the recent dedication of Tucker Court at Cloverdale High School. Tucker was the head coach at Cloverdale for 17 seasons, where his teams won seven sectionals and he coached two Indiana All- Stars, including his late son, Chad. (Staff Photo) Al Tucker and his wife, Joan, share a laugh during the recent dedication of Tucker Court at Cloverdale High School. Tucker was the head coach at Cloverdale for 17 seasons, where his teams won seven sectionals and he coached two Indiana All- Stars, including his late son, Chad. (Staff Photo) The night’s special celebration included reflections shared by Tucker’s son, Brad, a 1980 graduate of CHS, as well as 1968 grad and Indiana All-Star, Rick Ford.

“Thank you to the Cloverdale Community School Board members, Cloverdale Dollars for Scholars, and the Cloverdale School community – this is a beautiful court,” Brad Tucker began. “Before I begin, I want to recognize my little brother, Chad, who is probably looking down from heaven with a goofy grin this evening. We all wish he were here.”


Brad Tucker and his late brother, Chad, both played for their father, Al Tucker, at Cloverdale High School. Chad was named to the Indiana All-Star team in 1983 and went on to establish the all-time scoring record at Butler University with 2,321 points. That record still stands today. He was posthumously inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. Brad went on to coach at South Knox. Now retired from a 21-year career in education, Brad works as an insurance agent for State Farm in Greencastle. (Staff Photo) Brad Tucker and his late brother, Chad, both played for their father, Al Tucker, at Cloverdale High School. Chad was named to the Indiana All-Star team in 1983 and went on to establish the all-time scoring record at Butler University with 2,321 points. That record still stands today. He was posthumously inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. Brad went on to coach at South Knox. Now retired from a 21-year career in education, Brad works as an insurance agent for State Farm in Greencastle. (Staff Photo) Chad Tucker, who passed away in May 1996 at the age of 31, helped Cloverdale to a 67-11 record and three sectional championships over three varsity seasons. He went on to set the all-time scoring record at Butler University with 2,321 points, graduated as the university’s fourth all-time leading rebounder (689), and eighth in career assists. He was posthumously inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.


Rick Ford, a 1968 Cloverdale High School alumnus and Indiana All-Star, described former coach Al Tucker as “one of the greatest men I have ever met.” (Staff Photo) Rick Ford, a 1968 Cloverdale High School alumnus and Indiana All-Star, described former coach Al Tucker as “one of the greatest men I have ever met.” (Staff Photo) “God, family, school comprise a village,” Brad Tucker said, addressing the night’s near-capacity crowd. “Thank you, Al and Joan, for moving to the village of Cloverdale in 1963. Our faith, family, and school family have shaped my life.”

Ford, who went on to play at Indiana University, recalled playing on Tucker’s first varsity team at Cloverdale.

“You were molding us into a team, and we were a darn good team that year. We were 24-2 that year – we won the county, the sectional, and were the regional runner-up,” he said, adding “we got hosed one game by the officials.”

Not only was coach Tucker molding Ford and his fellow teammates into a team, Ford said he now realizes Tucker was also teaching his players how to live their lives.


Family, friends, former players, representatives of Cloverdale Dollars for Scholars, and faculty of Cloverdale High School were in attendance for the recent dedication of Tucker Court. (Staff Photo) Family, friends, former players, representatives of Cloverdale Dollars for Scholars, and faculty of Cloverdale High School were in attendance for the recent dedication of Tucker Court. (Staff Photo) “Sacrificing for the benefit of others, working together as a team to get positive results, and helping out your fellow man in-need,” Ford said. “If all of us practiced those concepts that Al taught us, how much better would this society be? God puts people in certain places, and I think he put Al in this place, Cloverdale, to guide young men like myself because I know that every person who played for him is a better person because of what he taught us and I thank God for that. As good a basketball coach as he was, it pales in comparison to the type of man he is. There is no doubt he is one of the greatest men I have ever met. On behalf of the 1968 class and all the Clovers that follow us, I want to congratulate Al on this highly deserved honor and I want to thank God for putting Al Tucker in my life.”

Next to speak was Cloverdale Community Schools Superintendent Greg Linton, who described Tucker as an individual who has made a significant impact in the lives of the students and players he has taught and coached.

“He took the necessary steps to support and encourage their success,” Linton said. “His high standards and demand for excellence produced good results that have brought us to this dedication this evening. His efforts on and off the court have provided young men with the opportunity to learn the importance of working together as a team to accomplish a common goal. As I have learned more about Coach Tucker during my first year here it has become clear to me that his support and involvement in the community goes far beyond this gym. Coach Tucker has been a generous supporter of Cloverdale students in their pursuit of a post-high school degree. His contribution to local and various non-profits including Dollars for Scholars, has had a significant impact on this community. And for that, as an educator, I am grateful.”

Cloverdale School Board member and representative of Dollars for Scholars, Vivian Whitaker, echoed Linton’s sentiments, saying, “Like Rick (Ford), a member of the 1968 class, I was in the eighth grade in Al’s first science class. Al and Joan have played many roles in my life. They have been like an aunt and an uncle at times. They have been like a dad and a mother at times, and at times like a brother and sister... and in all of those roles I have learned a lot. And I learn every day. But one of the most important lessons that they have taught me is not about the three Rs of education, but instead the three Ts of philanthropy: giving of your time, your talent, and your treasures. Al and Joan are directly responsible for giving and raising over $100,000 to our scholarship funds. I can’t imagine anybody leaving a legacy any greater than that of educating the youth.”

Bob Steele, president of the Cloverdale Dollars for Scholars, noted how “we have given away somewhere in the neighborhood of $300,000 since 1993 to about 300 graduates of Cloverdale High School. It will be no surprise to anyone here that no one has supported that more than the Tucker family. In 1963, Cloverdale High School needed a teacher and a coach. They got one of the winningest coaches in the state of Indiana for the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. But they got a lot more than just that... they got Joan, who was a nurse at the nursing home for 24 years taking care of our family members. We got Brad who was a teacher, a coach, and principal. We got Dawn, who is still the middle school principal. And we got Chad, who was an all-state basketball player representing Cloverdale and the leading scorer in Butler history.”

Tucker, a 1957 graduate of Patricksburg High School and alumnus of Indiana State University, took the opportunity to address the crowd, recalling how he and his family came to call the town of Cloverdale ‘home.”

“I came here in 1963, back when you could get a teaching job when you had warm blood, and a (college) diploma,” he said. “Cloverdale needed a teacher and they had two applicants for the job. And guess what? I came in second. It didn’t bother me, because I came in second a lot. I can handle losing, but not very well. Later, Art Johnson calls me and asks, ‘Are you still looking for a job?’ It wasn’t an easy decision, but it worked out, we got through that first year. That summer, I had a manger’s job at Lieber State Park for $1 per hour and all the ice cream I could eat. The next summer I became a union laborer and I helped carry those bricks up here to build this gym. It was the best job I ever had because it paid me more than my teaching and coaching did. To make a long story short, that’s how I got started here.”

Looking around at those seated alongside the court that now bears his name, Tucker said, “There were many days when I put more hours here in this gym than I put in at my own home. But, it was a labor of love.”

Showing a sense of humor not lost on those who know him, went on to say, “This night is not about me. This night is about every person that I came in contact with. Some of my very best players are here tonight. Some of my very worst players are here tonight, and some of my best cheerleaders and some of my not-so-good cheerleaders are here tonight. But I love all of you. We worked our tail-ends off. What I tried to do in my career is, I tried to be firm, I tried to be fair, and I tried to be consistent. Those who played for me knew I was demanding. I was demanding of them, I was demanding of myself, and I’m very, very proud to be associated with every person that I have come in contact with.

“Cloverdale has been great for me, and it has been great for my family. I certainly want to extend my appreciation to the school board members who had to make a not-so-easy decision – I don’t know if you made such a good decision or not, because now I’ve got to behave myself for the rest of my life and that could be difficult.”

Tucker summarized the night by saying, “Some people have asked me, ‘Why did you stay at Cloverdale when you could have gone someplace else?’ You know what, I never had any desire to go anyplace else in my career. I could have, but that was the place... my family grew up here, grew up in this gym, and it has been nothing but memorable moments for me and I can’t tell you how proud I am of this honor.”

Reaching below the podium, Tucker pulled out a white baseball cap emblazoned with the Clover logo and, placing the cap on his head added, “Once a Clover, always a Clover.”

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