Ladywood memories II: Gratitude and disappointment

Let’s call this Ladywood Memories II.

Govan Bond Govan Bond

Two weeks ago, I profiled Emily Wagner Gallagher, valedictorian of Ladywood’s Class of 1985, Miss Basketball for 1984, Stanford basketball player and graduate, now living in Lake Forest Park, Wash., near Seattle, and founder of a successful business guiding parents and students through the complicated college application process.

The duo of Emily and Char Govan had led the Blazers to the 1983 state Class B basketball championship over River Rouge, and had come within a basket of beating River Rouge again for the 1984 trophy.

I asked, parenthetically, for information about the whereabouts of teammate Govan.

Within three days, I received an email from Char: “I heard you want to talk to me.”

Teamwork. That’s the beauty of sports — individuals united in a common purpose and respecting each other’s abilities to work toward that purpose. That’s why and how Char was located so quickly.

She had “heard” from her brother, Jim Govan, 1980 alum of Novi Detroit Catholic Central, a member of the school’s board of directors, and co-captain of CC’s first state football champion squad in 1979. Two other brothers are also CC grads: Phil (1973) and Mike (1975).

Jim Govan had “heard” from the Hon. Michael J. Riordan, judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals, who had read the story and got the “teamwork” into motion with a call to Jim.

Judge Riordan, a 1978 grad of Redford Bishop Borgess, played football, basketball and  track. He said he’s looking forward to a reunion of the 1977 football team Sept. 7-8.

Now, about Char Govan Bond: she lives in Glen Carbon on the far western border of Illinois, some 19 miles northeast of St. Louis. She is married to Brian Bond, a music minister at a local Baptist church. They have two sons and a daughter.

Char teaches special education classes at Liberty Middle School in nearby Edwardsville. She has coached the seventh- and eighth-grade girls basketball teams for the past seven years with considerable success: a record of 132-20, consecutive state championships in 2015-16-17, and selection five times as Junior High School Coach of the Year.

“My daughter Alexis has been part of the 2016 and 2017 state champions,” Char said. “She is a very good rebounder like I was when I played at Ladywood and Illinois State.”

About the ecstasy and agony of Ladywood’s back-to-back encounters against River Rouge, “I like to talk about the experience of winning a big game and losing a big game to the girls,” Char said, “to let them know I know what they are going through during rough moments in a season.”

Her high school All State and All Catholic League honors helped gain an athletic scholarship at Illinois State, where she amassed numerous honors over a four-year career, crowned by induction in 2014 to the Illinois State Athletics Hall of Fame. Char ranks fourth in the university’s history in career points scored (1,589) and is tied for fifth in career rebounds (765).

“I think I played against Emily when we played Stanford (in March 1989),” said Char. She wasn’t certain, nor could Emily verify. “I know I scored 17 points and had 11 rebounds,” not enough for the Redbirds to absorb a 105-77 thrashing.

She graduated in 1990 with a degree in therapeutic recreation. After a brief professional career in Luxembourg, Char worked 10 years for the YMCA in Michigan, Illinois and Colorado before settling in Edwardsville.

About Ladywood’s closing, Judge Riordan in his email message wrote that he, his wife and two daughters who attend now “are heartbroken.”

Don Horkey

“I’m disappointed,” said Char. “The spiritual, academic and athletics foundation I received there laid the foundation for the kind of person I am today. But, I’ll pray that it can stay open. Maybe, a miracle will happen?”

God is going to have to get His team working.

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].