John Wooden’s record of winning 10 national championships during a 12 year period at UCLA is one that will probably never be broken. However, his leading the local high school to a state championship (in the days of a one-class system) and three straight state finals as the team’s point guard, is what he is remembered best in Martinsville, IN.
Johnny Wooden, as he is known locally, was born on a farm without electricity or running water, moving to town when he was in high school. From Martinsville he went on to star at Purdue where he was a three time All-American and College Player of the Year.
A series of coaching assignments in high schools, enlistment in the Navy during WWII and coaching at State Teacher’s College in Terra Haute preceded his accepting the head coaching spot at UCLA.
Wooden’s late wife Nellie, who was his high school sweetheart, was also a Martinsville native. The town named the Martinsville High School gymnasium in his honor in 1989.
How come so many of the great ones come from small towns like Martinsville?