By KRYSTAL SHETLER

MITCHELL — Coaches and players, young and old, will come together Saturday to lead the Persimmon Festival Parade through downtown Mitchell.

When 2013 General Chairwoman Lori Quebbeman chose the theme, “Mitchell Athletics — Past, Present and Future,” her goal was to honor the community’s athletic traditions.

To follow that theme, Quebbeman — a coach and athlete herself — chose a varied group of individuals to represent the past, present and future of Bluejacket athletics as the grand marshals for the Persimmon Festival Parade.

“I picked this theme because I love sports, and I have been involved in sports since elementary school, and I continue to be involved now as a coach,” Quebbeman said for a previous story. “I believe that being involved in sports, even the lesser-known sports, in school, helps to teach values, helps motivate, discipline and inspire the student.

“Sports are something that you can enjoy your whole life, play and/or being a spectator. … Mitchell sports have helped me become the person I am today, and I think they need to be recognized.”

Leading the charge will be Paul Stroud and the family of the late Terry Cole. Stroud said he was once told by the late Don Caudell Sr. that he and Cole were the only two athletes to come out of Mitchell who were “paid to play” after high school.

“It’s very nice to be honored,” Stroud said. “I’m just sorry Terry isn’t alive to see this. He would’ve loved it.”

Cole led the Bluejackets to its only undefeated season 50 years ago and went on to play for Indiana University and three professional football teams. He was a member of the Miami Dolphins when the team went undefeated on the season and won the Super Bowl championship. He died in November 2005. He will be represented in the parade by his son, Ben, and two grandchildren.

Stroud, a celebrated basketball player who still holds a few MHS records, was recruited heavily during high school. He chose to play for the Indiana State University Sycamores so he could pursue a career as a teacher and coach. After four years on the hardwood in Terre Haute, he tried out for the two traveling teams that played the Harlem Globetrotters and was chosen. He played for both the Washington Generals and New York Nationals, spending three years traveling around the United States and world playing basketball. Later, he would become a junior college coach for Northwood and Oakland City University before returning to his roots in Mitchell. He coached, taught and served as athletic director for Mitchell before taking administration and coaching positions at West Washington. He retired in 2010.

“I traveled with the Washington Generals and New York Nationals for three years, and it was a great opportunity,” said Stroud, who still lives in Mitchell. “The pay was pretty good. We got to play basketball, and we traveled everywhere. It was a great way to make money and have fun. It was a fun thing to do, and something not a lot of people get to do. It was educational, and I tried to take back what I learned and share it with the students I taught and coached throughout the rest of my career.”

A float, made by the MHS Art Club, will carry the grand marshals. Gary Seitzinger, who coached in Mitchell Community Schools for 43 years — 34 as head baseball coach, will be among those honored as grand marshal. He’ll be joined by his grandson, 8-year-old Ben Seitzinger, who will represent the future Mitchell athletes.

The elder Seitzinger is not a Mitchell native, but grew up in Vincennes. He attended Indiana State University. Just before graduation with a double major in math and physical education, he applied for three jobs, one of which was in Mitchell.

“I didn’t even know where Mitchell was,” Seitzinger said. “I had to look it up on a map. When I realized it was on the way to Bedford, and I knew where Bedford was because we had played Bedford in high school, I figured out its general location. I came down, interviewed and toured the school. I was offered a job that same day, and I’ve been here ever since.”

Seitzinger’s Persimmon Festival involvement has centered around the Phi Beta Psi food tent, as his wife Marcia is a member of the sorority. His “behind-the-scenes” role has never lent itself to being a part of the annual parade.

“I think I drove a tractor pulling a float once, but other than that, I’ve never been in a parade,” Seitzinger said. “It’s a special situation for me, especially with Ben on there, too. He was very excited about it.”

MHS athletes Taylor Mann, Alex Speer and Trevin Grissom will represent current athletes on the grand marshal float Saturday.

Mann, a Lady Jacket, plays basketball and softball for MHS. She’s grown up watching the parade and is now excited to lead it.

“I felt honored,” 16-year-old Mann said of being asked to serve as a grand marshal. “Especially, being a girl, and being able to represent our role in the athletic programs. It felt like it was an honor to represent my fellow student athletes and my friends.

“With my family, the parade is what we do on Saturday. Being a part of that is exciting.”

5242445e43435_imageMITCHELL — Asher Arce rings the cowbell after giving Phi Beta Psi member Carolyn Zeeks, left, a tip. The bell ringing is a new tradition at the Phi Beta Psi food tent. The tips are used to help local cancer patients. The sorority did a brisk business Tuesday afternoon at the Mitchell Persimmon Festival.

 

BEDFORD — Leaving a tip at the Phi Beta Psi food stand is a big deal these days. Whether it’s loose change or several dollars, the members working the Persimmon Festival make sure everyone knows the tip jar just got a little richer, and someone battling cancer will benefit.

Clang, clang, clang goes the cowbell, followed by a chorus of hoots and hollers. And they do it for every tip.

On Tuesday, their enthusiasm for tips was still going strong.

“Let’s hope we’re still that loud Saturday night,” joked Nancy Mundy, a member of Phi Beta Psi and chairman of the festival food stand.

More Cowbells for Cancer will raise more than $1,000 this week for local cancer patients.

For years, the sorority has used the festival tip money to assist cancer patients in Lawrence County.

“Tips usually ranged from $200 to $300,” said Mundy.

A few years ago, a member brought up that the sorority needed to draw attention to the purpose of the tips so more people might give.

The idea for the More Cowbells for Cancer initiative was born and tips have grown exponentially.

“Last year, we raised $1,357,” said Mundy. “Our goal for this festival is to get $1,500 in tips.”

By midday Tuesday, tips totaled about $250, but Mundy said as the festival goes on, the crowds — and tips — get bigger.

“A lot of people didn’t realize what we were doing and they would ask, ‘Why are you ringing a bell and screaming?’ said Jodi Mundy, a Phi Beta Psi sorority member.

Now that the cowbell has caught on, festival-goers want in on the action.

“If kids are here at the stand, we let them ring the bell,” Nancy Mundy said.

The sorority may make a big to-do over the tips, but it goes about helping cancer patients quietly.

“If we find out someone has cancer, we’ll send them some money or a gas card,” said Nancy Mundy said. “All the tip money stays in the community.”

The sorority also supports national organizations that do cancer research.

The success of More Cowbells for Cancer makes the long hours at the Persimmon Festival worth the effort, say the members. Phi Beta Psi has had a food stand on Main Street for 66 years.

Sue Beasley, Mona Mundy and Sherlia Hunter don’t get to see much of the festival. They spend their days in the sorority house down the street, making chili, cutting pies and other food prep.

“We’re there from 8 to 8,” Hunter said.

Chili, sloppy joes and tenderloins are the stand’s biggest sellers, as well as its homemade persimmon pudding and pies.

“We go through about six pies a day,” Hunter said.

Each member is responsible for making four puddings for the food stand.

“One gal made 15,” Hunter said. Beasley made nine.

The week before the festival, the members brown 270 pounds of ground beef, which is frozen to be used in the chili and sloppy joes.

The 40 active members of the sorority are required to work 15 hours in the stand, but Nancy Mundy said many more people are involved in the stand.

“A lot of our husbands are involved putting the kitchen together, setting up the stand,” she said.

Beasley’s husband, Russell, peels the onions.

“It’s one week of hard work, but we all have fun with it,” Hunter said.