Crothersville inducts two Tigers into athletics hall of fame


By Arv Koontz | The Tribune

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Andrew Nehrt said when he was contacted by Crothersville school officials that he was being inducted into the school’s athletic hall of fame, it was special.

“I was really surprised,” he said. “There were so many good athletes, and so many great coaches that have gone through Crothersville. You never really think of yourself as being on par with some of your peers that you played sports with in high school or coached with.

“It was a very pleasant surprise and I really appreciate being inducted into the hall of fame here,” Nehrt continued. “I appreciate the community and the support of everybody else. Crothersville is just a wonderful place to live and play sports, and grow up, and now that I’m on the other side of growing up, it’s still a nice place to live.”

Nehrt and the late Danny Wright were inducted during the school’s spring sports awards program last week.

They both coached the girls basketball teams as Wright coached the Tigers from 1999-2005, and Nehrt coached the girls from 2005-2010.

Nehrt said it was an honor to be inducted with Wright.

“I just want to say what an honor it is to be inducted into the hall of fame with Dan Wright. He was such a fixture in Crothersville,” he said. “He did so much for the school in coaching. It was really special for me when I found out I was being inducted on the same night at Dan Wright. He truly was a great man and he is sorely missed in Crothersville.”

Nehrt graduated from CHS in 1982. He ran cross-country and track for four years, and he played basketball for two years. He coached some middle school sports and girls varsity track in addition to his girls varsity basketball coaching.

“In a small community it was just fun to be in sports with all of your friends and everything else, to go and compete against other schools in the area. We had some pretty good basketball teams back in the day, and it was just a treat to be on those basketball teams and compete against even the big schools around this area,” Nehrt said. “Some of our fondest memories were getting a chance to play against Seymour, Brownstown, Scottsburg and Jennings County up in the sectional, which unfortunately the kids don’t get a chance to do anymore. Those are still some great memories.”

Nehrt went out for cross-country in high school to prepare for basketball.

“The allure for cross-country for us was that we would be in good enough shape to endure (coach) Jerry Owens’ basketball practices,” Nehrt said. “I enjoyed running, and still enjoy running to this day.”

Nehrt believes Owens’ basketball practices were 10 times harder than anything else they did in high school.

Nehrt helped the Tigers win the Southern Athletic Conference title when he made the winning basket in a game at South Central.

He said, “Every time I see Jerry I still talk about his famous quote in the paper about, ‘we had three options and Nehrt wasn’t one of them.’”

Nehrt said, “one of the things I treasure the most is the camaraderie. I still to this day — of all the basketball players we played with, it doesn’t matter where you see them — it’s still a bond that we all went through those years together, working our tails off to have great success. It’s almost like a brotherhood.

“I don’t care if it’s some of the older guys like Benjie Wehmiller or Doc Jewell and Chris Marshall, or some of the younger guys like Steve and Daryl Couch, or Jon Ortman or Greg Kilgore, any time you see one of those guys on the street it’s still almost like a brotherhood.”

He said his favorite track events were the 400 and running a 400 in the 1600 meter relay. When he graduated from CHS he held the school record in the 400, and they still hold the 4×400 relay record.

Nehrt’s best coaching records came in back-to-back years as the Tigers were 17-7 in 2007-08 and 17-8 in 2008-09.

“I think the main thing you don’t realize until you get older and you get out in the business world, you realize that all those lessons that you learned from competing in high school athletics paid such great dividends for you later on in life,” he said. “So, my opportunity to come back and give back to the kids that are going through athletics now, and instill that work ethic and teach them that the reward for hard work and perseverance is winning and all those kinds of things that are life lessons.”

The Tigers did not win a sectional under Wright’s or Nehrt’s coaching. Nehrt said, “We were sectional runners-up a couple years and I think one year we lost in double overtime. We played a lot of ball in the summers to get ready for the season.”

His wife, Cheryl, was previously inducted into the hall of fame.

Nehrt said, “She was inducted into the hall of fame a couple of years ago for all of her hard work in athletics, in school, and coaching. She was athletic director at Crothersville for a number of years. It’s a blessing that we could both grow up in this community and then be inducted into the athletic hall of fame as adults.”

Wright was represented by his son, Brandon, at the ceremony.

Brandon said of his father, “It’s a great accomplishment for my dad. He worked very hard here for 20 some years as a coach, for middle school all the way up through high school. What we really focused on was working with the elementary kids to really build them up.”

“I think, as the years went a long we saw the elementary girls’ program really grow through Andy and Kevin Hensley,” Brandon continued. “I think (dad) had a big part in that, working with and developing the younger kids. He won multiple middle school championships, Jackson County tourneys. The first year he coached, my seventh grade year, we won the Jackson County Tournament. He had a lot to do with the development of the girls through Biddy Ball and the summer camps. That’s where it starts.”

Danny Wright graduated from CHS in 1972. He coached middle school basketball in 1988 through 1994, then coached the Tiger varsity 1999-2005, and his 2001-02 team went 10-11. He came back to help coach the middle school in 2019-2020. After he retired from Cummings, he also served as a substitute teacher at the school for over 10 years.

Earlier this year he lost his battle with cancer.

Brandon said, “He was a big community supporter, especially with the school. Anything to do with the kids he loved. That’s what he was about.”

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