GARY — Marvin Rea Sr. is remembered every time someone steps foot into Bowman Academy's gym.
Rea led the Eagles to two boys basketball state championships in 2010 and 2013. And to commemorate his accomplishment, he along with all of his coaching staff and players from the pair of title-winning teams have been immortalized forever on the walls surrounding the court.
While the Eagles' banners are raised on one side of the gym, large cutouts of each member of the state championship teams — including Rea — are mounted on the others.
And nearly one year after Rea's tragic death in a five-vehicle accident on Interstate 65, Bowman Academy decided to make its remembrance of its former coach even more permanent by dedicating and renaming their gym after him.
"He was an outstanding mentor, he was a great father, he was a great coach and he had a knack for bringing people together," Bowman Academy athletic director Arthur Haggard said. "He helped our teams gel win nobody thought that we would win. He was a great visionary. Marvin Rea was so many things. You can't just put one label on him, and he's worthy of being commemorated today."
Kimberly Rea, Marvin Rea's wife, said she began talks with the school last season about possibly dedicating the gym to her late husband but she wanted to wait for a more appropriate time following his death.
And on a night when Bowman Academy (3-2) would square off against Lighthouse (2-1), she said the scenario couldn't have been more perfect. After eight seasons at Bowman Academy, Marvin Rea left the Eagles and continued his coaching career at Lighthouse. During the 2016-17 campaign — Marvin Rea's first and only season with the Lions — he won just seven games and would never have the opportunity to turn the program around.
But in his absence, Kimberly and Marvin Rea's son, Nick Moore, now has the chance to build his legacy just like his stepfather did in his first season as head coach of the Lions.
"It's a very impactful night for us as a family," Kimberly Rea said. "My son was the starting point guard on the 2010 championship team under his (step)father, and now he's coaching Lighthouse and he's back in his gym again."
Before the game, Kimberly Rea, Moore, Marvin Rea Jr. and the rest of their family were presented with a commemorative sweater and a copy of the gym's declaration. Haggard also called each team's coaching staff and all of Bowman Academy's former players and coaches to center court to honor Marvin Rea. And after posing for several pictures and eventually going their separate ways, it didn't take long for the intensity to rise when the game got underway.
In his first appearance as an opponent, Moore and the Lions trailed 35-33 entering the fourth quarter of a chippy and back-and-fourth contest. His squad took the lead on a 3-pointer by senior guard Timothy Mays but was outscored 15-7 the rest of the way.
Junior guard Tarik Booker led the Eagles with 29 points in the 50-43 win, and helped them pick up their third home victory of the season. Moore said Lighthouse had its opportunities, but despite the loss he acknowledged that this game was a lot bigger than the scoreboard.
"We were there at the end but fell short," Moore said. "It was a great night and a great way to celebrate (my stepfather) and dedicate the gym to him. I think that was the most important thing tonight. "