Jim Dailey remembers nearly every second, every basket and every whistle of the 1969 IHSAA state basketball state championship.

Dailey coached Tolleston High School to the championship game, losing to a George McGinnis-led Indianapolis Washington team at Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse.

It was the Gary school's last season as a high school. He can recall the great rivalries with Roosevelt and Froebel as well as a packed Memorial Auditorium.

Dailey, retired and living in Valparaiso, can also remember moving on to Merrillville and coaching the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons, then losing his job after his second year at Merrillville.

"They told me, and I won't name names, that I was fired because I let a girl try out for the team," Dailey said. "I said, 'Guilty,' because I did. Then you start reading about Title IX, which was coming into place."

Dailey said he did not want to go into details of his firing and take the luster off a great coaching career. The Omro, Wis., native is the son of a bar owner and said he wanted to come to Gary and teach.

"I knew a guy in the service named Phil Mann, who knew everything about graphic arts," Dailey said. "I asked him where he learned all that and he said, 'Gary Horace Mann High School.' Imagine learning that at the high school level?

"I read more about the William A. Wirt Plan, and with me teaching industrial arts, I figured this must be a great school system and it was for me."

Dailey taught industrial arts at Tolleston and Merrillville high schools.

The Wirt Plan -- or the work-study-play plan -- became world famous and so were the Gary Schools. Dailey still talks about Gary and Tolleston as if he grew up there. He and his wife Eleanor have been married for 49 years after meeting at Tolleston High School where Eleanor was also a teacher. The couple have three children and five grandhildren.

Dailey has old scouting reports, programs, photos, game film, yearbooks and memories. He said his Tolleston team was motivated for the 1968-69 season, and not just because it was the school's last as a high school. It would later become a middle school and is now being converted into the home for the John Will Anderson Club of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana.

"We lost the (E.C. Washington) sectional in 1968 and that left a bad taste in our mouths," Dailey said. "In 1968-69, we were moved to the Gary Sectional at Memorial Auditorium and so I scheduled a few extra games there. We knew we would have to beat Roosevelt (1968 state champs) and Froebel."

His starting five of Henry Goodes, Donald Baity, Vernon Williams, Virgil Taueg and Mark Vaxter were seasoned and determined.

"We could score and score and score," Dailey said. "One game, I think we had 143 points. This team was motivated. We knew we were through after this year (1969) and we were all seniors. We really just went out and worked hard and played our best every game."

The Blue Raiders lone regular-season loss was to Chicago Farragut, thus entering post season as undefeated against Indiana teams.

"Tolleston was just a great school and we had great kids," said Dailey. "I know there was unrest in the 1960s, but our kids came to school and our team, they wanted to win and win state."




Sports Director

Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.