Hinkle Fieldhouse from an Athlete

Jim Lill, Hinkle Campaign Cabinet
Butler Class of: 1970

I played football at Butler from 1966 through 1969. Technically as athletes we did not receive athletic scholarships. We received a "grant and aid." The grant and aid required that each athlete perform some work. For example, we'd be required to clean up the Butler Bowl after a home football game. My favorite job was, well.....sweeping the basketball court floor at halftime during the Christmas vacation basketball games. To me Butler Fieldhouse (it wasn't Hinkle yet) was the grandest stage in the athletic universe. Huge crowds of 14,000 were common in the 1950s and 1960s for the Hoosier Classic and other great games. As a boy I had seen Oscar, Bobby, Buckshot and Cazzie perform their magic on that court. The circus had come to town. The Pacers and the Olympians had their genesis on the floor boards and back boards of this grand palace. Say it ain't so, Alex. Bevo Francis, the most prolific scorer in college history, filled the nets one night with me and my Dad watching in awe. The Indianapolis sectional brought glory to Crispus Attucks and Willie and Hallie and all the rest. I had been there in witness. It was all a Hemingway-like truth. Now at Christmas time it was my time to shine. Although I could play a little pick up "b ball" I knew I was just a notch below the caliber of all of the great ones. Halftime would come. I would grab my broom with my letter sweater concealing my heart pumping through my chest. A step up to the wooden floor boards and I began the back and forth and up and down broom push. But I was not removing the dust and debris and sweat and blood of the first half, I was driving toward the bucket.... full court..... to dunk over Walt Bellamy, stop and pop from 17 over Rick Mount and shooting the winning free throws for Cathedral in its lone sectional victory against Arsenal Technical and the Price brothers. I was the Sorcerer's apprentice that night against New Mexico and Willie Long. Spadorcia and Hardin came off the bench. They claimed victory, but it was really my broom. I know I heard the crowd cheer. I still do.