WEDOWEE — It was 72 years ago when the Madison Cubs took home the Indiana High School Athletics Association (IHSAA) state basketball championship. On that day, Stan Weber would have never imagined the celebration that occurred over seven decades later.
Weber now calls Alabama home, but his hometown of Madison, Indiana, calls him a legend. Weber is the only surviving member of that 1950 team, and at 89 years old, he is being honored with a Governor’s Distinguished Hoosier Award, and the city of Madison is proclaiming a day in his name.
Weber and his wife, Martha, of Wedowee, traveled to Madison this week to accept the honor in a three-day celebration.
“As far as Hoosier basketball goes, this is a big deal,” said Madison Mayor Bob Courtney.
Courtney said the city council declared Wednesday, November 23, as Stan Weber Day, and he was given a copy of the proclamation.
“Stan and his teammates from the 1950 Madison Cubs state basketball championship team left an indelible mark on our community that we will be talking about for years to come,” said the City of Madison on its Facebook page. “It’s an honor to recognize his contributions to Madison and his coaching career.”
Weber remembers that year very well. He said his team was from one of the smaller schools in the area. While they had a few hundred in their high school, the teams they played against had thousands.
“We were playing the big boys, but we had a tremendous basketball program, and all of us grew up playing ball from the time we were very young, and it worked out well for us,” he added.
But the season wasn’t without challenges for Weber.
Down but not out
“Basketball was my entire life, really,” said Weber. “The year we won the state, I was a starting player. Then about the fourth game of the season, I tore my Achilles.”
Weber said he was benched for most of the season, but he talked his doctor into taking off the cast before the team began to play in tournaments for the playoffs.
“I told him I had already been moving my leg around in there for a couple of months because I figured if I got it moving, it would heal up,” said Weber. “So, I was able to make the tournament games, and I was very glad of that, and we did well.”
The game was a nail-biter. The Madison Cubs only beat the Marion Giants by one point (50-49). Cubs coach Ray Eddy ended up getting the head basketball coaching job at Purdue University after that game. Eddy coached there for 15 years.
'They'll be smiling'
The time on the court was more than a game. Weber said he made lifelong friends and kept in touch with each of them until they passed away.
“I miss them all,” Weber added. “I miss them. I’m thankful to be alive, but I sure wish I wasn’t the only one.”
He said he knows they would be proud of the city of Madison recognizing them, and most of all, they would be glad he is the one accepting the honor.
“They would be very happy that I was going to be the one that had to say 'thank you' and not them, so I’m sure they’ll be smiling,” he said.
U.S. veteran, veteran basketball coach
Weber graduated high school in 1951, enlisting in the Marine Corps, where he spent three years in service. He was a sergeant and tank commander in the Korean War. The veteran then used his G.I. bill to put himself through college at Hanover. After college, he spent 28 years coaching multiple successful basketball teams.
Weber retired from coaching in 1987, then retired from teaching in 1989. He and his wife, Jan, moved to Florida. A few years after Jan passed away in 1999, Weber met his wife Martha, and they married in 2004. The couple eventually moved to sweet home Alabama, where they plan to stay.
A notable coaching experience for Weber was when he coached at Southwestern High School. A big game there is the day before Thanksgiving when Southwestern plays Madison. In 1967, with Weber at the helm, Southwestern beat Madison for the first time. This year, Weber was able to go back to watch that game between his alma mater and the team he once coached. It was the 55th game played the day before Thanksgiving for the two teams.
"It is really full circle," Weber said. "It makes me feel kind of old, but it's always nice to have something to look forward to and experience."
Weber was recognized at the game this year. Basketball legend Bobby Plump also spoke at an event honoring Weber.
Looking back on his last 89 years, Weber said he knows his parents would be proud of him. He said he is thankful to be honored in such a big way for his part in a small-town basketball game he played 72 years ago.
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