(1-11-21) John Wooden was a true Hoosier, he was born and raised in Martinsville. He would be a big part of one of the most successful high school programs, Martinsville, in the 1920’s in the state.
Wooden starred in high school for the Martinsville where he was named an All-state player three times. Martinsville won the state title once and was runner-up on two other occasions.
Basketball was an obsession in Martinsville, just as it was throughout the rest of Indiana.
Glenn Curtis coached John Wooden on the Martinsville High basketball team. Wooden described Curtis as a strong disciplinarian and a solid teacher of basketball fundamentals.
The John Wooden Gymnasium is home to the Martinsville High School Artesians basketball team and home to both sectionals and regionals in Indiana. The gym debuted in January of 1977 replacing the Glen Curtis Gymnasium that had been home to the Artisans since 1924.
Martinsville won the 1927 IHSAA Single-Class State Title. In the Semifinal game Wooden would score 10 points and in the Championship game he would score 13 points. Impressive numbers when you realized he scored 23 of the team’s 58 points in the two games.
Wooden’s first coaching position was at Dayton (Ky) High School where he coached for two years. His first year at Dayton, the 1932–33 season, marked the one and only time he had a losing record (6–11) as a coach or a player.
1932-33 Dayton High Yearbook –
“A discouraging season. Dayton will attempt to make a better showing next year.”
The next season was better when the Greendevils went 15-3.
After Dayton, he returned to Indiana, where he would teach English and coach basketball and baseball at South Bend Central High School until 1946. His career high school coaching record was 218–42.
The 1942-43 Central Bears would be Wooden’s last team before he left to serve in the Navy during WWII. He would return for one more season after the war ended.
The 1945-46 South Bend Central team was the last team Wooden would coach at the school, he had returned, after the start of the season from serving in the Navy in WWII.