Basketball, Indiana's Passion: Bennie Lewis and the Fort Wayne Flite

Basketball, Indiana's Passion: Bennie Lewis and the Fort Wayne Flite

Written and photographed by Larry Whitt

Basketball is king in the State of Indiana, and it has been for over a hundred years dating back to 1894.

Basketball season is never over, though high schools and colleges have finished for the year, other forms and leagues are in full blast for all ages. There is a YMCA league currently under way that plays every Sunday afternoon for those over age 40. AAU programs are all over the country for children in the 3rd grade through the 11th grade with Parkview Sports One and Spiece Fieldhouse catering especially to both boys and girls in this area.

Fort Wayne's very own Flite (pronounced flight), a Central Basketball Association (CBA) entry, now in its fifth season, is a semi-professional team made up mostly of local young men with above-average skills, who could possibly play at a higher level.  All of this is supported whole-heartedly by a lot of people -- far too many to possibly mention them all -- so we will just single out someone who has for years supported basketball in Fort Wayne, IN--Mr. Bennie Lewis.

Mr. Lewis has never sought a headline for himself in the 20+ years I have known him; instead, he has been the man behind any number of leagues and players.  The former City of Fort Wayne Parks manager ran leagues for children for over 20 years; he put together countless tournaments from young adults up to age 50 and over.  He coached Lakeside Middle School girls for some time; his son, Bennie Lewis III, plays professionally overseas, along with a few other local players.

Now he has opened a door to worldwide basketball for our more gifted young players who may never have had a chance to grow and branch out.  The Fort Wayne Flite is probably a well-kept secret but it is alive and well. The CBA is an eight-team league that plays an eight-game schedule with the specific aim of advancing the players global opportunities.  In the five years that Bennie has been involved with this league, the Flite has won the last two titles and runner-up the year before their championship run. The first year in the league, 2014, current Flite player Antonio Cannon was league's MVP.

But this is not about the performance of the team, but the efforts of a man who spends long hours doing what is necessary to give any number of young men a chance to make a better way of life through the game of basketball. Bennie Lewis is what I would call a genuine guy, and this is just a small shout-out to someone who spends a great deal of his time doing his part for our young folks. 

On Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6, 2018, the CBA Final Four tournament will be held at the Horizon Christian Academy, 2000 Wells Street, Fort Wayne, IN 46808.  Further information on the Flite and the CBA go to: