Carol Tumey, Making a Difference One Life at a Time
“Basketball doesn’t build character, it reveals it.”
By: Kurt L. Moore
“Education has been my life. My aunt, my grandfather, and my Mother were educators. As a young girl, I played school with my friends and I was always the teacher. I honestly never prepared my self to be anything but a teacher. After graduating from Franklin College, my main objective was to obtain a teaching position. There was one open at Center Grove, I interviewed and was lucky to get a call from the Superintendent telling me that I was hired. Honestly, it’s the only job I ever interviewed for.”
I met Carol for the first time at the Center Grove Educational Center. I knew before hand she had achieved great and lasting accomplishments in the world of women’s sports. I was surprised to find Carol to be like anyone you would run into at the supermarket. There was no Superwoman cape—no bullet deflecting bracelets.
The person I met was a very attractive, well-groomed, well-educated, polite, and well-dressed woman.
I was meeting Carol to interview her about her remarkable career in sports. She had excelled beyond all normal reason. I was also trying to get a feel for the person herself. I was having trouble with that part of it. There was something missing that I couldn’t explain. Something was not right—not fitting.
The answer came with a jolt at three in the morning—I couldn’t sleep, I had my answer.
Carol Tumey is ordinary. She lives in a neat and immaculate ordinary home in an ordinary subdivision. She does all the ordinary things we all do—all the mundane things we all do from day to day. That was the part of the equation I had missed.
Carol Tumey is an ordinary woman who had attained many and varied extraordinary accomplishments in the world of sports.
She was no Superwoman. She was an ordinary woman who possessed extraordinary vision and courage, who then forged forward into territory no person had been before. That is what I couldn’t see.
Carol Tumey has a list of awards and honors that would take up more space than this entire article. She has been recognized and honored many times, not only locally, regionally and statewide but nationally as well.
She still serves her school and her college to this day. She is still helping direct a pathway for students yet to come.
It is because of the vision and spirit of Carol Tumey that the Indiana Senate and House of Representatives drafted the following resolution honoring her.
Whereas, On April 30, 2011, in recognition of her contributions to Indiana high school basketball, Carol Tumey, a former Center Grove High School girls’ basketball coach, will be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and presented with the St. Vincent Health Silver Medal Award;
Whereas, after graduating from Franklin College, 21- year-old Carol Tumey began teaching at Center Grove High School, eager to take the principles she learned in college and apply them in the classroom.
“I played basketball in college and of course with a degree in Health and Physical Education, it seemed appropriate that I could continue or even begin some sort of sports program for the girls at the high school. In those early years, there was an organization for girls called Girls Athletic Association. That was the vehicle for any sort of organized sports program for the girls. In retrospect it was somewhat of a glorified intramural program that included Play Days with other schools.”
Whereas, while teaching at Center Grove, Tumey had the idea of starting a girls’ basketball team at the school. The team’s first season was in 1963, when they played a 10-game schedule.
“At Center Grove we organized a girl’s basketball team for competition. We were finally were able to get competition with a few local schools. The uniforms were merely shorts and a camp shirt style top. Our numbers were black iron on letters. That situation is in no way a reflection of the administration at Center Grove, it’s just the way it was at that time. My Principal, Mel Vandermeer was in fact supportive of me, although I know that there were times when he wondered what I was trying to do.”
Whereas, as it became clear that the Center Grove girls were interested in playing competitively, other schools like Greenwood, Franklin, Whiteland, Southport, and Beech Grove joined with their own basketball teams.
“In all honesty, I never really thought about starting a sports revolution, I just wanted the girls to have opportunities for competition, opportunities for sportsmanship, developing friendships, developing skills that would help them stay fit and have a healthy lifestyle. I wanted them to believe that you could be competitive and still be attractive females. I will admit that I had and still have, a competitive spirit and it soon rubbed off on the girls. It was rewarding to see other schools begin to put together teams.”
Whereas, In Tumey’s sixth season, the 1968-69 team finished the season undefeated, establishing themselves as the first of many truly great Center Grove High School girls’ basketball teams.
“I knew we had a talented team of girls. The team received trophies for their undefeated season. I have a plaque that the team gave me at the Awards Program commemorating that eventful season.”
Whereas, through the course of her career at Center Grove, Tumey coached basketball, volleyball, cross country, and track and field. She also served as the school’s Intramural Director and Assistant Athletic Director.
“A lot of my professional success has been involved in coaching track…a sport I coached for 35 years. I had state competitors for most years, won many county conferences, sectional and regional championships. My career record in track was 212-47. My teams were large, often numbering 60 or more. Because of this I was able to touch many more lives and have the opportunity to make a difference.”
Whereas, Carol Tumey will be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame on April 30, 2011. Her career at Center Grove High School and her induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame is a fitting honor, given her impressive contributions to the sport during her impressive and productive tenure:
Therefore, be it resolved by the Senate of the General Assembly of the State of Indiana, the House of Representatives concurring:
SECTION 1. The Indiana General Assembly congratulates Carol Tumey on her induction into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
“My selection into the Basketball Hall of Fame came very unexpected. It just happened and how that happened, I’m not sure. It was an honor that I will never forget. I received so many cards, letters and phone calls of congratulations. I was honored both at Center Grove and Franklin College during basketball games.
In reality, the award doesn’t really belong to me. It belongs to ALL of the girls who ever played basketball at Center Grove. It’s a testament to the dedication of the Center Grove community for their diligence in promoting girls basketball and to the girls from the very beginning to the present.”
KLM: What has been your husband Dale’s role in your career?
“He was with me at many track practices and traveled to most away meets as well. He often brought me meals and we would eat our evening meal together on the gymnasium bleachers, the track or football field.
I have been blessed to have a husband who has been such a supporter, confidante, and helper. He supported me in my career decisions, even when he knew it would mean less time together for us and less home cooked meals. Because of his support, I was able to move ahead with my career knowing that I had his support and backing.”
Carol Tumey’s career at Center Grove spanned four decades. Carol is an ordinary woman who possessed extraordinary vision and had the opportunity to work along side many others who believed in her and followed her pioneering path.
Carol is revered in the Center Grove community. Each and every girl or boy who went through one of her athletic programs reveres her. Carol is special and when you meet her, you will understand why.
KLM: Carol, did you at any time in your career feel or think the vocation you had chosen was not the right one?
“Every individual takes moments of reflection at various times during his or her career. I sat at my desk and wondered if I’d made the best choice of a career. Did I choose the right college to prepare me for that career? Had I thanked all the people along the way who had helped and guided me in that path?
At the end of the reflection, I knew, (as I told myself), YES, I did make the right career choice. YES, beyond doubt, I did choose the right college. YES, I did the right thing by accepting a position as a teacher at Center Grove for my first position, YES, I did the right thing by staying in that school corporation, even though I had several opportunities to go other places and YES, I felt that I did the very best I could do, at the moment, in every situation.
I have been blessed beyond measure. Would I do it all over again? In a heart beat…in a heart beat.”
About the author: Kurt L. Moore is a veteran photojournalist whose credits extend worldwide. He has spent many years interviewing the rich, the not-so-rich, the famous, the not-so-famous and the everyday Jane and Joe on the street. The lion’s share of his career was spent covering the entertainment industry.
Kurt is a born and bred Hillbilly from Branson, Missouri who recently relocated to Indianapolis.
Update: Just after our first issue went to press Kurt died unexpectedly at age 68 on March 31, 2012. You can learn more about Kurt L. Moore and his life here.