Coach Douglas McKenzie called this winning group of basketball players, “my state tournament team.” He thought by the time we were juniors or seniors we’d be a championship team for sure. The 1951 Mineral Point eighth-grade starting five is pictured above.
Unfortunately, his dreams were short-lived.
Our best player, six-foot-three Chuck Calvert—center, top—who scored 20-plus points a game, contracted polio and never played again after his freshman year. Chuck had been a “starter” on the senior varsity his freshman year.
Mike Whalen, bottom left, transferred to a private Catholic school, Campion at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, after his freshman year and was voted all-state in the private school ratings his senior year. Mike grew to six feet, three inches.
Six-foot Skip Thorpe, top right, who’d also been a varsity “starter” his freshman year, moved to Barneveld, Wisconsin, after his sophomore year. League coaches voted him the league’s most valuable player and best rebounder after the season ended his senior year. He grew to six feet, one and one-half inches, and averaged twenty-three points a game.
Paul Humbert, top left, moved away from Mineral Point after his sophomore year. But he did just fine for himself, as he later became the head doctor in America’s space program.
Judd Bliss finished high school in Mineral Point, and then distinguished himself in a U.S. Army career.
Having seen his “State Champion Team” dissolve before his eyes, Doug McKenzie quit coaching and went into the insurance business.
This 1951 team provided a year of promise that never reached fruition. Whittier described it best when he wrote, “For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘it might have been.’”