In March 19 IssueCourtesy of Lindsey Wilson College
Lindsey Wilson College football Coach Chris Oliver hasn't signed a recruit yet from Russell County, but Thursday morning he paid a visit to someone who still has two years of eligibility left.
The only drawback is that the prospect hasn't played a college football game in almost 74 years.
Cloyd Lacy of Russell Springs, is the only known remaining player from the last Lindsey Wilson football team. Lindsey Wilson folded its football program after the 1935 season in order to focus on a men's basketball program, which became a charter member of the Kentucky Junior College Athletic Conference.
A Columbia resident, Lacy commuted to his classes and football practices at Lindsey Wilson. Lacy told Oliver that the Lindsey Wilson football team practiced "about three times a week" before playing an area team on a weekday afternoon.
Lindsey Wilson's home football games were played on an open field behind Phillips Hall, an area that is now part of the Campus Quadrangle and Holloway Building. The games -- which usually pitted Lindsey Wilson against a high school team from Bowling Green, Columbia, Glasgow or Lebanon -- attracted "about 50 people or so," Lacy said.
The players wore leather helmets and little equipment; and the crowd was usually composed of Lindsey Wilson students and faculty, "along with a few people from town," Lacy said.
Lacy couldn't recall the name of his coach, but he told Oliver that football was "coached by two or three from the faculty."
And he said that a faculty member who was a regular at home football games was A.P. White, who taught history and also served as the second president of Lindsey Wilson.
When the LWC football team traveled, no team bus or vans were available. So players piled into four or five cars and traveled over mostly dirt roads to meet their opponents.
Lacy grew up in Columbia and graduated from the former Columbia High School in 1933. He played "town ball" -- a form of baseball -- during his formative years, but Lacy didn't play football until after he enrolled at Lindsey Wilson.
When asked what position he played at LWC, Lacy replied: "In the middle of the field." And because Lindsey Wilson had fewer than two dozen players, he often played as a reserve on defense and offense. The college's overall enrollment was about 80 during those years.
Lacy was one of five members of his family who attended Lindsey Wilson. His older brothers, Edgar and Alton, and sisters, Bettie and Victoria, also attended the college.
Following graduation from Lindsey Wilson, Lacy taught school in the area. After subsisting on a $60-a-month teacher's salary for four years (which he only received during the seven-month school year), Lacy operated a Western Auto store for more than 50 years in Russell Springs.
Lacy gave up football when he left Lindsey Wilson, but he stayed connected to the college. He and his wife, Ina, sent three of their daughters to Lindsey Wilson: Marilyn, Sherry and Meda.
Lacy told Oliver that he hopes the Blue Raiders have a better record when football resumes on Sept. 4, 2010, than they did during his years at the college. While Lacy was on the team, Lindsey Wilson won only a couple games.
Oliver told Lacy that the Blue Raiders "probably will throw the football a little more than they did back then."
When Lacy played at Lindsey Wilson, the forward pass as a legal play in college football was less than 30 years old; and even by the 1930s, the pass was often used as a play of last resort.
Because of NAIA rules, Oliver reckoned that Lacy would still be eligible to play football at his alma mater. NAIA rules allow a student-athlete 10 semesters to play four seasons of intercollegiate competition.
And because Lacy only attended Lindsey Wilson for four semesters, he would have two years of eligibility remaining.
But rather than suiting up for the return of football at his alma mater, Lacy agreed to serve as honorary team captain of LWC's first home game in 75 years. Oliver also invited Lacy to the team's pre-game breakfast on Sept. 4, 2010, and also to offer a few words of encouragement before the game.
"It would be an honor for our team to hear from a person who played on our college's last football team," Oliver told Lacy.