CHARLESTOWN — There’s no denying basketball has a special place in the hearts of many Hoosiers.
Around the state, the sport has grown to encompass much more than just throwing a ball through a hoop. It’s about community and sportsmanship; pride and perseverance.
Chuck Ledbetter Sr. has documented such tears and triumphs of a local town in his new book that chronicles the story of Charlestown High School boys’ basketball. Today, his finished tale, “Charlestown High School’s Pirates of the Hardwood,” will be released.
Fans who will attend the Charlestown-New Washington boys’ game tonight will have the opportunity to buy Ledbetter’s account, the first of its kind to fully record the school’s long basketball legacy. Books may be purchased for $20 during the game. For those unable to attend, copies are available at the Charlestown library or online at charlestownpiratepride.com
“I hope it sparks an interest with the fans to create more excitement about coming to basketball games and our rich history. It was the fans who sparked me to do this,” Ledbetter said. “It doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to them.”
For the past two years, Ledbetter devoted much of his free time to researching forgotten games of Charlestown’s past. During that time, he interviewed more than 30 former players and coaches for the book in addition to spending countless hours pouring over old newspaper articles, photographs and box scores from local archives.
Like many country schools at the time, Charlestown couldn’t find enough boys to field a basketball team until 1916. Farm work came first, and many students had few free moments to devote to practice and games. Ledbetter also noted that horse and buggies were still the primary means of transportation for many in the town, and the rickety roads made for a difficult journey to and from the school.