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CEDAR LAKE -- More than 27 years ago, Larry Mcmillen and some parents went to speak at the Hanover Community School Corporation in Cedar Lake.

There was some rumblings in the community about starting a softball team at Hanover Central High School just a block down on 133rd Avenue. Most of the other schools already had a team.

McMillen was the Vice President of the Cedar Lake Girls Softball league, like the 70-year-old still is today.

They pleaded their case and got a thumbs-up. Well, sort of.

He said the board told him they'd have to find a place for the Wildcats to play.

McMillen said, "They can play at our league's field."

They said they'd have to find some money to purchase the equipment.

McMillen said, "They can use our bats and balls and bases and things."

The board then added that they would need some time to find a coach for the team.

McMillen then said, "I'll do it as a volunteer until you find who you want."

The rest is history. His story.

McMillen built a small-school powerhouse in softball, starting by wearing ragged, old junior varsity baseball uniforms with rips and stains to winning 411 games in his 25 seasons as head coach, before stepping down in 2015.

Friday night at Edgewood High School in southern Indiana, McMillen will be inducted into the Indiana Softball Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Indiana Coaches of Girls Sports Association.

"I must have impressed someone along the way," said McMillen, known for his dead-panned since of humor and sharp tongue. "It's a nice honor. It's going to be a lot of fun."

McMillen graduated from Lowell in 1966. He won the state championship at 138 pounds that year in wrestling. He finished third at state in 1965. He was an IHSAA wrestling official for 30 years, working seven state championships.

He worked for Illinois-Indiana Bell for 32 1/2 years as a lineman, retiring in 2002.

As a young adult he played fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball for over 30 years, his biggest accomplishment was winning the ASA slowpitch state championship in 1985 for the Alaskan Pipeline team.

Indiana University is hosting the North-South All-Star weekend. McMillen is being inducted along with Carmel player Kelsi Jones Rynard and Castle player Beth Harman Zachary.

Lake Central coach Jeff Sherman, who is the District 1 representative for the ICGSA, is pumped about McMillen getting his due.

"Larry is a legend in Region softball," Sherman said. "Anyone who cares about Region softball knows who he is and they should know what he's done to grown the game up here.

"Larry is a classic coach in our area and he deserves this."

His 411-153 record includes 14 conference championships, 12 in the Porter County Conference and two in the Greater South Shore Conference. His teams won eight sectional championships, five regionals and one semistate.

In 2003, the Wildcats made the state semifinals in Class 2A, and in 2004 McMillen won his one state championship.

That is why after his wife, Pat, making the trip to tonight's Hall of Fame dinner, four players from his '04 team will also join him to break bread and tell a few jokes.

"This is a great honor, it really is," McMillen said. "It means a lot to me. Working with so many girls for so long it was really a lot of fun and we built something that a lot of people didn't see ahead of time.

"This is something I am very proud of."

The Wildcats now have very nice uniforms and have played on a great new field on the Hanover Central grounds for five years. It is gorgeous.

It is called Larry McMillen Field. How appropriate.

This column solely represents the writer’s opinion. Reach him at steve.hanlon@nwi.com.

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Sports Reporter

Steve has won awards during two different stints at The Times. In addition to being the Prep Beat columnist, he covers football, boys basketball and boys track. He is a long-suffering Cubs fan.