In sports, athletes get the lion’s share of the glory. But especially in small towns, where everyone feels like part of the team, players aren’t the only people who become sports legends.
In the central Kansas town of Ellinwood, the folks lining the sidelines are equally important. And now they are the focus of Heroes on the Sideline, Ellinwood School and Community Library’s companion exhibition to Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America, the Smithsonian Institution exhibition touring Kansas in 2015.
“We wanted to recognize the contributions of these unsung heroes...because they helped to shape our success and who we are as a sports community,” said Sharon Sturgis, Ellinwood’s Hometown Teams project director.
Sideline heroes aren’t necessarily lifelong Ellinwood residents, just people who love the town’s teams. Nick Loburgio fits the bill. He married into the community and quickly became one of its own, serving on the school board and coaching town baseball and basketball teams.
But to generations of Ellinwood sport fans, he’s best remembered as the high school football announcer -- a position he held for more than 40 years. Win or lose, the “Voice of the Eagles” signed off after each game by reminding listeners, “Folks, drive to arrive alive, and don’t do anything ol’ Nick wouldn’t do!”
Ellinwood is the first community of six to host Hometown Teams, the Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition that explores the way sports build and unite communities. The exhibition travels to Goodland, Greensburg, Atchison, Perry, and Humboldt.
Sheri Holmes, Director of Library/Media Services, Ellinwood School/Community Libraries