Four teams and eight individuals became the first inductees into the newly established Paris High School Athletic Hall of Fame Saturday, Feb. 4, in the Tiger Senior Apartments and what used to be …
Four teams and eight individuals became the first inductees into the newly established Paris High School Athletic Hall of Fame Saturday, Feb. 4, in the Tiger Senior Apartments and what used to be known as the girls gym.
The four teams — the 1946 and 1948 state champion cross country teams and the 1943 and 1947 state basketball champions — were represented by family members who traveled to Paris to attend the ceremony.
Two of the eight individuals who were honored — Otho Tucker and Bob Collenberger — were present for their induction, The remaining six individuals — Coach Ernie Eveland, Bob Owens, Dick Foley, Bernie Shively, Charles Matheny and Bill Bess — were represented by family members.
“It was a great night and everyone is still talking about it,” hall of fame co-chairman Harry Hughes said, noting approximately 100 people attended the reception and introduction of the inaugural class.
Collenberger, 91, lives in Champaign but admitted he was more than a little excited to be inducted into the hall of fame. He brought along his letter sweater and a relay baton from the four-mile relay. He donated both to Paris High School with PHS Athletic Director Creighton Tarr taking the prized possessions.
Tucker, who was a member of the 1971 team which was undfeated entering the state tournament, later played for the University of Illinois where he was team captain his senior year. He is now chief executive officer of Lake Oconee Academy in Georgia, a charter school.
Bill Bess, who was an all-state football center in 1938 and 1939, was represented by two of his sons, Jim and Bob. They shared a story about their father and longtime Paris football coach Deac Sweeley, who came upon Bess and friends playing football in a pasture and recruited them to play for the Tigers. As the story goes, Sweeley set up an unofficial game against Marshall and Paris dominated.
Bess led the Tigers to an unbeaten season as a senior.
Arguably perhaps the greatest all-around athlete in PHS history is Bernie Shively, who played three sports at PHS and went on to the University of Illinois where he was Big 10 champion in the hammer throw, as a heavyweight wrestler and was the primary blocker for Illini great Red Grange. Shively later became athletic director at the University of Kentucky and hired Bear Bryant as football coach for the Wildcats. Shively was born near Oliver and his cousin, Dorothy Farnham, was gratified he was being recognized for his high school career.
Dick Foley, the captain of the 1943 state basketball champions, was also a member of the undefeated 1942 team which lost in the state championship game. “Dad never got over that,” said his daughter, Jane Bell. Foley played at the University of Illinois and was a member of the 1949 Big 10 championship team which took third in the NCAA.
Bob Owens was team captain and a member of the 1947 state basketball champions. He was the leading scorer in that tourney with 72 points playing center — despite being only 6-3. His son, Steve, who also played for Paris, and daughter Cheryl accepted the plaque for their father.
Charles Matheny was an all-around athlete winning the state cross-country championship and the mile run at the state track meet in the same year. His son, Steve, said his father continued running all of his life and was also a bicycle enthusiast.
Coach Ernie Eveland Coach Eveland’s 29-year coaching career consisted of a record 793-178 (.815) and two IHSA state championships (1943, 1947), in addition to pair of runner- up finishes (1939, 1942). Overall, he had 11 teams make the state finals, including seven in a row from 1938 to 1944. In addition, Eveland also coached the Tiger cross-
country team to three straight state titles from 1946-48.
Eveland was a charter member of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame. His daughter, Linda, was not able to be present but through Zoom call his granddaughter, Dr. Elane Shirar, his great-grandson and his daughter joined the event.
The PHS cross-country teams won state titles in 1946, 47, 48 and 49. All of the teams are all worthy of HOF status, but the team that was arguably the most dominant was the 1948 team. The undefeated 48 team scored an impressive 23 points, with the top three Paris runners all finishing in the top five. Glen Curtis, Bob Collenberger and Jim Acklin finished second, third and fourth overall to help lead Paris to its third consecutive state title. Running fourth and fifth for Paris at the state meet were Willard Gibson and Bob Laughlin, respectively, with Tom Harvey and Jim Funkhouser running in the six and seven spots.