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The story of the making of the “We are Family” documentary (Part 1)

By Jason Dorsey

Arsenal Technical High School, established in 1912 and located on a 76 acre campus just east of downtown Indianapolis, has a rich history. Once a United States Arsenal during the Civil War, It’s the third oldest high school in Indianapolis. Tech’s beautiful, historic buildings give it the feel of a college campus.

 

In the 1930’s-1950’s Tech had been one of the largest high schools in the United States, but desegregation and “white flight” from the Indianapolis Public Schools in the 1960’s and 1970’s had taken a toll. When our oldest son, Jacob, enrolled as a freshman there in the fall of 2009, Tech had a reputation as a rough place where if you “had a choice” you wouldn’t send your kid. We did choose to send Jacob to Tech and he thrived in the Math and Science Magnet located in Stuart hall, graduating in 2013 as Valedictorian of his class.

In the summer of 2013 our son Julian, who played for the basketball team, was heading into his junior year at Tech. Tech’s basketball team was expected to do very well, with a plethora of talented seniors led by Trey Lyles. The previous two seasons, Tech had lost heartbreaking playoff games, so the team had a real hunger to go all the way and Coach Jason Delaney was speaking of this season as the “Final Act”. For the team it was all or nothing.

Julian Graduating

However, with all of its rich sports history Tech had never won the Indiana State Basketball Championship, though it had come close four times. In 1929, Tech lost to Frankfurt and then to Logansport in 1934. Joe Sexson, who would later star at Purdue and Coach at Butler, led Tech to the state finals against Logansport at Hinkle Fieldhouse in 1952, but the team lost. Mike and Jim Price led the Tech Titans to the state finals in 1966, when the team lost to Michigan City.  And no IPS team had won the State Basketball Championship since Broad Ripple did in 1980.  Though many people were wondering if this would be the year that Tech would finally win it all, the odds were stacked against them.

Julian and I talked about how cool it would be to get behind-the-scenes and game footage of the season. We went to Coach Delaney to see if he and the coaching staff would be willing to let us do this. He said Yes. He shared that when the Waldron team he coached in 2003-2004 won the 1A Indiana State Basketball Championship he regretted that he didn’t have more photos of and videos for that season. I went out and bought a video camera.

I did not anticipate what a magical season it would be.

Stay tuned for Part 2

We are Family Documentary

Racial divides continue in America. But in the darkness of this division, there are stories of hope.

Tech 09

Sunnyshore Studio is working on a documentary called We Are Family that will tell the inspiring story of how a basketball team from an urban school in the heart of Hoosier basketball country came together around a common dream of winning the state basketball tournament, how they fought through personal and team challenges, how they forged a bond as family, and how they rallied a whole community around them.

After the Titans won the Championship Game in March, 2014, Indy Star Reporter, Bob Kravitz wrote an article that reflected on the meaning of the victory.

“Landmark State Title proves inspiration to entire Tech community” 

“From the time they are young, these kids who attend Indianapolis Public Schools are told they can’t. Parents try, teachers try, mentors try to lift them up and out of their circumstances, but the lowly graduation rates at schools such as Arsenal Tech do not lie, nor does the alarming drop-out rate.

 On Saturday night at Bankers Life, though, the talented and composed young men of Arsenal Tech believed they could do something very special, something that hasn’t been done since Broad Ripple earned the IPS’ last state title in 1980. And they did, knocking off Lake Central, 63-59, winning the Class 4A state title, showing everybody, yes, they could.

 Sixty years ago this week, Milan won one for all those small schools.

Saturday night, Tech won one for all the schools and the students who have been told they aren’t good enough to ascend the greatest heights.

 Remember the Titans.”

We Are Family will explore the impact of this victory on the lives of the players, coaches, school and IPS community four years later. In it we ask, “did that victory matter?”  And we hear a resounding: YES!

We look forward to sharing this story with you that proves that the relationships that are built when a team comes together as a family really do matter and endure.

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