RECORDS & AWARDS
LOOKING BACK AT A SPECIAL TIME WITH LAMAR
July 17, 2013By troy derengowski of Richmond High School
When Richmond opens its 2013 high school football season August 23rd against Connersville, it will mark the beginning of my 24th Richmond Red Devils football season. It’s hard to believe I have been here in Richmond for that long. It will be extra special this season because of the renovations to the field, the stands and the press box. I am anticipating a huge crowd that night, full of excitement, not just about the new digs but about a football program that may be heading back in the right direction.
I have been thinking about the last 23 teams I have covered and about all the excellent players that have come and gone. Many are still in the area, raising families and getting close to having their kids participate in football. That thought really makes me feel old, calling games of players, whose father’s played when I started here in 1990. To be honest with you, I never thought I would be in Richmond over three years. It just never entered my mind to make Richmond my home. But now I am considered one of the “elder broadcasting statesmen” of the NCC. I can’t tell you how many trips I have made to Logansport, Marion, Kokomo and Anderson over the years. In fact, I don’t really want to think about it myself.
But I must say, there have been some great times with my broadcast partners along the way. Many of those trips were made more bearable because of the laughs we had passing the time and the miles away. From Lamar Lundy and “Rerun” Coleman to Jeff Lane and Chris Parker. Some stories I could share, others I can’t, but I will never forget Lamar. As you know Lamar was a large man. I always felt bad for him on road trips, especially to Logansport or Lafayette Jeff, because at that time, WKBV sent us on road trips in the “smallest” car they could find. Lamar would squeeze his 6-7 frame into that car with his knees pushing against the dash and never complained. He would mention how small the car was, but never said a bad word. The press boxes weren’t very kind to Lamar either. Richmond’s press box was two tiered and we were on the second floor. The steps to the upper deck were steep and the hole was small. Just picture Lamar climbing those stairs and trying to get through that hole, without hitting his head on the ceiling on the way through. The other time I remember was a playoff game at Franklin Central. The good press box was full so they put us in the small box on the visitor’s side. Straight up ladder, smaller hole than at Lyboult and all we had for light was a low watt, single bulb. And by the way, NO heat! Lamar made it up and as usual, didn’t come down until the game was over. And he never complained! On trips to Lafayette, where Lamar played college football and basketball, fans would come up and talk with him like they were family. Lamar usually didn’t know them, but he always talked to them, signed autographs and made them feel special. That was the Lamar I knew, always made time for those who wanted to chat with him. Despite taking his time away from the broadcast or his chance to eat a bite or just rest before the game, Lamar never complained.
I had many conversations with Lamar on our trips, many about the Red Devils football team and how they might do that night. Other conversations were about his playing career. I picked his brain about why he chose football over basketball, why he wanted to play with the Los Angeles Rams, the best players he played against and the best he played with. We talked about the coaches, the “Fearsome Foursome”, traveling on those fun planes, playing in the heat and the piercing cold, the racism he and his black teammates faced, playing for very little money and his health. During all of those discussions, Lamar never said a bad word about anyone or any situation he was in. He understood it was all a part of the profession he chose and the time he was living in. Sure, he may not have enjoyed some of the problems he faced, but after reflecting on those circumstances, he understood it was all a part of life. Lamar’s health was always a factor after football up until the time he passed away. But that too he learned to accept, no matter how hard everything was getting for him.
When I open my 24th season of Richmond High School football, I will think about Lamar. In fact, I think about him every football season. I think about him every time I cross over the bridge named after him. The last time I saw Lamar was at Reid Hospital just before he passed away. It was hard seeing him there. Before I left, I gave him a hug and told him I loved him and as always, Lamar had a big smile on his face and never complained!