Bruins “Reunion With a Cause” to benefit Boys and Girls Club
The Northrop Bruins -- the entirety of the high school not just the ballers -- earned their 1974 state basketball championship; the battle was on the court, but the race riots were at the school. When Central High School, the grandfather of Fort Wayne high schools, was closed for good in the Spring of 1971, its remaining students (and anyone who almost went to Central) were bussed to existing and new high schools.
Northrop and Wayne High Schools opened that Fall, in part, to take in all of those displaced students. It was forced integration; progression in motion too fast...a race riot jumped off during the first day of school. “Athletics brought us all together,” said Walter Jordan, star standout on the 1974 Bruins team, who went to Purdue University; a short stint in the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers before injury ended his career. The school rallied around other sports, like tennis and cross country…it wasn’t just basketball. And the togetherness, after all of the knuckleheaded-ness of the first day, to a head with the state title.
“We became brothers and sisters. All that garbage on the first day of school wasn’t even remembered. We played for each other. All of the changes at the school…it was beautiful thing to watch.”
It must have been a beautiful thing to feel because the 1974 class, who’ve kept in close contact, are rallying again, five years before the 50th Anniversary of the state title, with a class reunion the first week in October. “We didn’t want to wait 50 years,” Jordan said, “and in no way is this an athletic reunion. I’ve spoken to 75 to about 100 classmates, many from all over the country…100% are enthusiastic.”
The Bruins “Reunion With a Cause,” a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne, kicks off October 4, 2019, with a tailgate celebration before the homecoming game against rival Snider High School. Following the game, a casual networking event will take place at the Downtown Hampton Inn rooftop bar, 223 W. Jefferson Blvd.
The primary reunion concludes Saturday, October 5 with a fundraiser party for and at the Boys and Girls Club Fort Wayne, at 2609 Fairfield Ave., from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Fort Wayne’s own Chris Worth, a nationally renowned singer, will serve as the night’s entertainment. Catering will be provided by Northrop alumnus Mike Bentz from Crackerjack Catering. A special salute to overlooked (but outstanding) Northrop alumni, as well as a video presentation, prepared by professional videographer and class member Mark Martindale, are also on the itinerary.
Tickets for Saturday night range from $50 to $100. The $100 tickets include dinner, a donation to Boys & Girls Clubs, and a commemorative t-shirt. To register for the Saturday night fundraiser, hit up their Eventbrite website at bit.ly/BruinsPartyForCause.
In the works for more than a minute, the reunion planning committee includes the following Bruins: Fred Arrington, Dennis Beck, Kathy Gaines Carr, Edna Hamilton Clancy, Charles Combs, Walter Jordan, Megan Nash Landers, Doris Butler Lemert, Tom Madden, Kathie Wright Montague, Kirby Scheimann, and Jeff Stratton.
100% of the proceeds from the Saturday night fundraiser will be given to the Boys and Girls Clubs. Funds for scholarships, in honor of memorable Northrop teachers, will be raised, as well as monies for club equipment and programs. $10,000 has been raised so far.
The story of the 1974 Northrop Bruins BBall team, overcoming all of their “-isms,” as Jordan pointed out, is something out of a movie--“Remember the Titans” specifically. They are family. “We love each other and will fight for each other.”
Again, to register for the Saturday night fundraiser, hit up their Eventbrite website at bit.ly/BruinsPartyForCause.