FAIRMOUNT — In a time when it seems that fewer fans go to youth sports events, Fairmount resident Arlen Hasty is a “super fan.” A retiree who hasn’t had family members in the Madison-Grant Community School Corporation for decades, Hasty not only attends dozens of M-G school games, both home and away, but goes to many other games as well.
On one Saturday in February, Hasty attended seven games. No matter the price of gas or the weather, if young teams are playing, he is in the stands, sometimes going out of state to do so.
“It’s cheap. I just enjoy it,” Hasty says. “I went to Decatur the other night. The Eastbrook girls played Columbia City in the sectional up there. I go to a lot of games.
“Once I went to Elgin, Ill. when (M-G graduate) Chrissy Vetor played a game in college. I went up there and back the same night, got home at three in the morning. I wouldn’t do that again,” he laughed.
Anita Marley Manwell and husband Joe are parents of three children who currently attend or have graduated from M-G. “Even when we drove the farthest distances to see our kids play, Arlen was there. He didn’t even have a child on the team,” she says.
Hasty, a graduate of Fairmount High School, knows statistics and history for young athletes the way others know professional players.
“We’ve had some good boys and girls teams both,” he said. “Back in ‘70, ‘71, ‘72, we had some good teams. (Former coach) Jack Ford came in ‘73 and we won sectional the first season he was here. Craig Sullivan hit 13 out of 14 field goals against Marion.”
He can tick off that the M-G softball team has won seven sectional titles in the ‘90s and won the state championship in 2009. The boys high school basketball players’ names from the late ‘80s and the ‘90s easily come to mind, back when it was still single class — especially the time in ‘92 when M-G took two overtimes to beat Marion in the sectional.
Hasty especially enjoys the highlights of the sports his friend Robert Holloway has coached, including boys basketball, girls basketball, and track. Holloway, the current varsity coach for the M-G volleyball team, has won five straight sectional championships. Holloway’s daughter, Kayla, won 58 straight matches as the junior varsity volleyball coach.
“I don’t know of a game I’m talking about that I wasn’t there,” Hasty says.
Many times, Hasty travels alone. But when Holloway, who is an M-G graduate whom Arlen used to watch play, can swing it, they go together and follow a routine.
“Arlen and I have been going to sporting events together for at least the last 15 years or so,” Holloway says. “We basically go to about any type of event. . . . Many people probably think that we go to quite a few high school events together and we do. However, we used to go to Purdue women’s basketball games when Jodi Howell from Alexandria played.
“We also like to go to basketball games in the summer. Our favorite is the Indiana Junior/Senior All-Star games in June. They play twice the week of the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star game. If we don’t have a conflict, we go to both games no matter where they are. Last summer we drove to Sullivan High School. There are usually a couple of things we try to do: be early and make sure we eat on the way.
“A couple of years ago, M-G’s boys basketball team was playing at Alex on the last day of the Madison County tournament. We watched M-G play Liberty Christian and then headed to Pendleton for the finals.”
Hasty reads three newspapers a day, checking on all of the sports, and is watching Tyra Buss, the standout basketball player from Mt. Carmel, Ill. who just declared for Indiana University.
“She’s scored 4,700 points in her career and she’s at about a 2A school like us.” She’s 89-0 in tennis and plays with a Kmart racket,” he says with a twinkle in his eye.
One can just see him revving the engine to go to Bloomington for some basketball next season.
“Evidently, she’s tougher than anything,” he says.
As much as he loves to see the top athletes, he appreciates that winning isn’t everything. At Jodi Howell’s final game, the opposing team lost and still stood and cheered for Howell, and Hasty thought the exceptional sportsmanship was memorable and showed class.
Remembering an M-G athlete who played all four years, although the coach said she wouldn’t get much playing time, his eyes misted.
“As long as they play hard and they get better as the season goes. . . I think that’s important,” he said.
Hasty gives everybody a break, even the fans. He doesn’t think that fan attendance is down so much as the number of games has escalated and the training starts much earlier. These days, he attends many junior high level games, something that was not an option in his early decades as a fan.
He has a priority system about what game he goes to, if game times conflict.
Ron Stewart, a 1988 M-G graduate, lives in Fairmount and is a relationship manager for Star Financial in Elwood. His daughters, Sloane and Mia, are M-G athletes, ages 13 and 14.
“The only time he’ll miss an M-G seventh and eighth grade girls or boys sporting event is if it conflicts with an M-G High School sporting event,” Stewart says. “He has attended their summer basketball and softball leagues numerous times since they were in the fifth grade. Arlen is the most positive and encouraging fan we have at Madison-Grant. I have never heard him once criticize a player at any age level or in any sport. When Arlen has a comment to make about a specific player, it is usually about how that player ‘has improved tremendously from the past year,’ ‘how hard they work.’ or ‘how they really hustle.’
“For Arlen, it’s all about player development and improvement, as well as the kids having fun,” Stewart added. “He expects the coaches at M-G to foster and facilitate these aspects of M-G athletics.”
Over the years, Hasty has financially supported some teams, whether paying some fees for a team to be in a special league, or simply buying the athletes ice cream or concession snacks after games. He provided a place to practice once, when there was a need.
“There is no one who has watched as many Madison-Grant sporting events as Mr. Hasty,” Stewart says. “He is a wonderful personality to have in our community, and a tremendous asset to the Madison-Grant athletic departments. He is generous with his time and resources. Arlen is simply ‘Mr. Madison Grant.’”