The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local news

September 8, 2008

Haskins’ memory lives on in Enid

The memories of Enid native son Don Haskins are alive and well in the community where the Hall of Fame coach spent his youth and discovered his love for the game of basketball.

Haskins, who died Sunday of congestive heart failure at age 78 at his El Paso, Texas, home, was credited with helping break color barriers in college sports when he started five black players in 1966 to win a national basketball title for Texas Western against an all-white and heavily favored University of Kentucky team.

Haskins was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Bas-ketball Hall of Fame on Sept. 27, 1997, and Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on Aug. 9, 1999. He is the main subject of the Walt Disney Pictures movie “Glory Road.”

Perhaps one of the greatest honors in Haskins’ career was the naming of some Enid basketball courts in his honor. The courts, dedicated Oct. 13, 2005, as Don Haskins Basketball Courts were the work of several Enid residents who wished to see the coach honored at home.

The project of renaming and creating the courts, located at 6th and Maine, took about a year, said one contributor.

“He was really something,” said Scott Fitz-gerald, a former News & Eagle reporter, of Haskins. “He never forgot Enid. He really loved his hometown.”

Fitzgerald, who grew up in El Paso, said he remembers the day Haskins and the 1966 team returned home after the championship.

“When Haskins stepped off the plane in March 1966 and thrust his finger out to signify No. 1, I was 10 years old and started crying.” Fitzgerald said. “It was the first time I cried from being overjoyed.”

Fitzgerald said he thanked Haskins for that moment when the coach returned to Enid to have the courts renamed in his honor and to be inducted into the Enid Public School Foundation Hall of Fame.

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