Giving back

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Former Milan player Cutter repays good fortune

By Mark Ambrogi

When Rollin Cutter told his father he wanted to go for basketball, his dad said it was fine as long as he found his own way home to the family farm, nearly five miles from Milan High School.

Cutter’s older brother gave up basketball for that reason.

“I rode my thumb for six years,” Cutter said. “Ray Craft and I would get rides for a couple of miles and then walk or if someone saw us they usually picked us up.”

It was worth the hassle. Cutter became a key member of Milan’s 1954 state championship team. Cutter, a sophomore reserve, ended up playing about three quarters in the state semifinals and final because of Bob Engel’s back injury. Engel was only able to play about a quarter in each of those games because of pain. Milan topped Muncie Central 32-30 in the state title game on March 20, Cutter’s 16th birthday.

“You could say Milan kickstarted my college career, my coaching career and teaching career,” Cutter said. “But after you get in the door, you have to do something when you are there.”

Cutter always did. Cutter, 76, played basketball for legendary coach Tony Hinkle at Butler University and then was a varsity basketball coach at Syracuse (now merged into Wawasee) and Brownsburg and an assistant at Arlington. He later became a guidance counselor at Carmel High School and then started his career in Noblesville Schools in 1979, serving as guidance director, a junior high principal for five years and then returned as guidance director.

“We moved the family to Noblesville (from Indianapolis) to improve educational opportunities for our kids,” Cutter said. “(In 1974) I quit coaching because I wanted to spend more time with my kids.”

Cutter retired from Noblesville in 1998, Shortly before his wife Maridee retired as a teacher as a North Central High School.

Cutter keeps busy volunteering one day at week at Riverview Hospital, transporting patients to services they need. He and Maridee are Meals on Wheels volunteers and Cutter also is active in the Noblesville Lions Club. He was the Lions Club president several years ago.

“It keeps me active,” Cutter said of hospital volunteering. “I feel it’s a good service. The same with Lions. We try to help kids and the different people in Noblesville. I enjoy that.”

Cutter said it comes from his family background.

“It was well-known in our community of small farms, that if anyone needs help my dad is the one who was going to help them,” Cutter said. “I think that rubs off.”

Cutter’s son Rob, a former Hamilton Southeastern High School head football coach and now a HSE assistant, said his dad has always been that way.

“He’s always given back,” Rob said. “He’s an incredibly humble, unselfish person. He would often do things that were family-oriented or give up hobbies or things that he likes for the family’s sake. Since he’s retired, he’s worked at the hospital or helped tutor kids. He likes to communicate with people.”

Rob said many of the players his father coached have contacted him and told them the impact their father has had on their lives. Former Arlington basketball player Rodney Scott, a former major league baseball player, even came to watch Rob play basketball at Noblesville. Rob played football at Butler.

Rob said his father never tells people about his Milan experience unless he is asked.

“He never brings it up but he is sure proud of it,” Rob said. “He certainly loves that time. It changed his life. It changed my life as a result. It’s been quite a story.”

Cutter said Milan’s story has been kept alive for years by the 1986 move “Hoosiers” — a fictionalized story about a small Indiana school winning a state title in 1952.

Cutter recalls “Hoosiers” screenwriter Angelo Pizzo talked with the Milan members as he was writing the script. Pizzo and fellow Indiana University graduate David Anspaugh, the director, has talked for years about wanting to make a David and Goliath movie about Indiana high school basketball.

“Pizzo said you guys are too vanilla, we can’t make a movie on that,” Cutter said. “A movie has to have sex, conflict. So he brought all those things in there. But I thought it was a very inspirational thing.”

Through the years, Cutter has frequently been asked questions by people believing parts of the movie.

“You always get questions like ‘Who were you in the movie?’ Or ‘Did you really have a drunk (assistant) coach,’” Cutter said.

Cutter read the screenplay before the movie came out and said he chuckled when he got done.

“I can’t believe they can make a movie out of this,” Cutter said. “Number one, I can’t read a screenplay and determine if they can make a move out of it. They started out naming the team Hickory and that’s Hicksville right there. But they did a nice job bringing it all together.”

It also kept the actual story of Milan’s memorable run in the public consciousness.

“Even though the movie never mentioned the word Milan, because they didn’t have enough funds for royalties,” Cutter said.

Last year was the 60th anniversary of Milan’s victory and there were several get-togethers. Cutter was among those honored at an Indianapolis Indians game. Most of the former Milan teammates meet every three or four months.

“We’re pretty close,” Cutter said.

Rollin Cutter_0006

Meet Rollin Cutter 

Personal: He and wife Maridee have two children, Marcia and Rob, both Noblesville High School graduates. Marcia works as executive director of Tri Sigma, a national sorority, in Woodstock, Va. Rob has two sons.

Favorite books: “I read ‘Unbroken” and really enjoyed it. I read ‘American Sniper’ as well and enjoyed that. I’m not an avid reader but I could become that.”

Favorite viewing: “We have a difficult time finding a appropriate movie to go to. I don’t watch the old movies. We do a little TV watching. My wife is into ‘Survivor’ and ‘The Amazing Race.’ We watch those and get involved with that.’ If you are basketball fan, you can find a basketball game on about anytime of the evening you want to.”

Hobbies: Golf and Butler basketball season ticket holder. “I’m not so much of a pro (basketball) fan). I enjoy following the Colts.”

Favorite restaurants in Noblesville: “When we first moved to Noblesville (in 1972), we probably went to Castleton once a week, not just to shop but to go to a restaurant. Now it’s twice a year to Castleton. Noblesville has some nice restaurants and places to shop. We like to go to O’Charley’s and several places around. We miss Eddie’s Corner Cafe, which closed (in 2013).”


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Giving Back

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Kennedy Fisher and Indy Diamonds softball teammates participate in event to help hospitalized children

By Beth Taylor

On Dec. 29, members of the four-team Indy Diamonds softball program gathered at Thorpe Creek Elementary school to participate in a Project Sunshine Kids for Kids service project. The girls helped to assemble over 600 craft kits that will be sent to children at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis as well as to other hospitalized children throughout the United States.

Project Sunshine is a nonprofit organization that provides free educational, recreational and social programs to children facing medical challenges. Kids for Kids, Project Sunshine’s youth service program, gives children the opportunity to volunteer and give back in a meaningful way. Children participate in Sending Sunshine projects, such as assembling craft kits. The craft kits enhance creativity and encourage patients to use their imaginations.

When teammate, Kennedy Fisher, a sixth-grade student at Fall Creek Intermediate School, explained the idea to Clint Cushman, president of the Indy Diamonds, he agreed that the project would be perfect for the team. “When I started Indy Diamonds last year, I knew that I wanted to teach softball skills, but also look for ways that as a team we can give back. I wanted to teach more than softball,” said Cushman. “This project seemed perfect.” Cushman is also a physical education teacher at Thorpe Creek Elementary School.

Fisher explained to Cushman why she wanted the team to help with the project. “I wanted to do this project because not every day is a good day for kids in the hospital. These crafts will give them something to do so that they aren’t bored,” said Fisher. “We’ll help to put smiles on children’s faces.”

Tami Crawford, Fisher’s mom, believes that encouraging children to give back at an early age is important. “Kennedy and I were looking for something that she could do to give back. For this age group, it’s really hard to find ways they can contribute. We found Project Sunshine’s Kids for Kids program,” said Crawford. “Kids can’t go into hospitals to volunteer, so creating these craft kits is a good way to help.”

Fisher received $2000 in donations, enough to complete 675 craft kits. Each craft kit contains everything that a child needs to make a specific craft.

“Kennedy has done some other things, like help at the Wheeler Mission, but this is the first big project,” said Crawford.

Fisher also received a 2014 Student All Star Grant from the Indianapolis Colts and Grange Insurance. The $500 grant will be used for Fisher’s next Project Sunshine service project.  She will receive the award by Jan. 31. “We’ll do a Round 2 in February,” said Crawford.

Fisher plans to organize enough volunteers to create 100 Surgi dolls. The cloth dolls are used to help kids understand where treatments or operations are happening on their bodies. Volunteers sew the dolls together, leaving the patients to personalize the dolls and keep them as companions during their hospital stay.  “The money from the Colts organization will go to make the Surgi dolls,” said Crawford.

Cushman was thrilled to see the turnout during the holiday break from school. “Volunteering together is great for team building,” said Cushman. His plans for the program include volunteer projects every other month.

“It’s so nice to do things as a team to build synergy. The energy around the service project has been amazing,” said Crawford.

Fisher thanked her teammates for helping. She plans to continue her volunteer efforts. “Volunteering makes me feel good. I’m going to try to do something every year,” said Fisher.


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