CEDAR LAKE | Larry McMillen is like the absent-minded professor of region softball. His resume is like bin Laden, hard to find, perhaps hidden in some cave somewhere.
This isn't some Mr. Magoo silliness. It's all by design.
The coach at Hanover Central is a legend, even if he doesn't want the title or can't remember when he first coached the Wildcats.
"Hell, I don't know, '91 or '92," McMillen said. "It might've been '89. I don't know."
And as his Wildcats compete in today's Class 3A Twin Lakes Semistate, the question of his record came up. Same thing: don't know.
"Last time I knew what my record was was in 2004," McMillen said. "And I only knew because they made me."
"They" would be the IHSAA. Such stats are needed when a team reaches a state championship. Hanover Central won the Class 2A state title in '04.
These Wildcats are two wins away from another game on the big diamond in Indy. And McMillen still doesn't care what his record is.
"That's just another stat," he said. "It doesn't matter."
So what does matter?
"Teaching these girls to play the game properly," McMillen said. "So they can be the best they can be."
Hanover was 3-5 to start the season. The Wildcats lost three of their last four games of the regular season. Hanover was on nobody's radar when the sectional began last week.
Wins over Knox, Kankakee Valley, defending state champion Andrean and Griffith put this team on the doorstep.
"Coach Larry is awesome," junior pitcher Ashley Yoways said after the Griffith win on Wednesday.
"He's the best," added Ivy Dawson.
Dawson has a stuffed bird named Horatio, which is what McMillen told the girls was his middle name on a bus trip. That isn't really his middle name. McMillen is like the Henny Youngman of region softball.
He needs an assistant walking behind him with a snare drum to accent all the one liners. There are a lot of them.
The Hanover softball team has some new-blood dance music playing before the game with Griffith. The Wildcats, as a group, were dancing in the dugout. McMillen almost tapped his toe. Almost.
When asked if that was his dance mix, he said, "Are you kidding me?"
When asked if he would prefer some Johnny Cash, he said, "I don't listen to that hillbilly music."
When he was told, by me, that Cash is not a hillbilly, McMillen walked away.
The jokes and humor don't mean he doesn't take the game serious. He has every intention of winning two in Monticello with a team that could continue to shock the state.
McMillen knows this game is important. He just understands there are other things at a higher level.
"I'm going to tell the girls the same thing I did before sectionals," McMillen said. "You've got nine losses. Ten is unacceptable. If we get to 10 we're done.
"We've got to keep playing good softball, making smart decisions on the field. We're playing good softball right now and I want to keep it going."
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.