*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.
Evansville has a unique place in history because of having numerous professional athletes play here for numerous sports such as baseball and basketball. Over the next several weeks in our blog series, “You Know My Name”, we are focusing on basketball, baseball, and football athletes who came through or grew up in Evansville. Our first athlete is ISUE basketball legend, John Hollinden.
Hollinden was born on March 6, 1958 in Evansville, Indiana. He attended and graduated from Central High School in 1976: by the time he graduated, he was 7 foot, 4 inches (Zeligman, 1976). He attended Oral Roberts University and played for the Golden Eagles for two seasons, 1976-1977 and 1977-1978. He received various offers from numerous from big name universities such as Clemson University, Notre Dame, Indiana University, and College of William and Mary (Zeligman, 1976).
After two years at Oral Roberts, he transferred to Indiana State University-Evansville (presently the University of Southern Indiana) playing for two years, 1979-1980 and 1980-1981. During his tenure, Hollinden set numerous school records and awards such as (University of Southern Indiana, 2017):
- School Records
- Most career blocks: 365
- Most blocked shots in a game: 17 (versus Kentucky Wesleyan, January 24, 1981)
- Most blocked shots in a season: 200 (1980-1981)
- National Association of Basketball Coaches: All-American (Third Team), 1981
- NCAA Great Lakes Regional All-Tournament Selection, 1980
- All-Great Lakes Valley Conference Team (First Team), 1980-1981
- Great Lakes Valley Conference Player of the Year, 1981
- First player in ISUE/USI history to win.
As his collegiate basketball career ended, the Dallas Mavericks selected him in the 1981 NBA Draft in the eleventh round; however, he never played in the NBA. On September 25, 1981, Hollinden was involved a car accident which “… left him paralyzed from the waist down” (Ford, p. C1, 1992). Hollinden graduated from ISUE in 1984 (Harrison, p.1). After the event, he continued to serve the Evansville community through organizations such as “… Leadership Evansville, United Way, [and] the Tri-State Food Bank” (Ford, p. C2, 1992) and “… ran as an unsuccessful candidate for the city council in 1987 [and] helped found and co-captain Evansville Rolling Thunder Basketball wheelchair team” (Harrison, p. 1, 3). In 1986, USI honored Hollinden by retiring his jersey (Harrison, p. 1). He continued to struggle with his health: in 1984, he received a broken neck after another car accident; in 1991, he legs were amputated above the knee (Stockman, p. C2). He passed away in October 5, 1992 (Ford, p. C1)
Available online through the University Archives and Special Collections, there are media guides relating to the USI athletics program and the USI student newspaper, The Shield. Inside of the ISUE/USI Memorabilia collection (UA 108), we have John Hollinden jersey and warm-ups, available for viewing during our normal business hours.
Ford, S. (1992, October 6). John Hollinden dead at age 34. Evansville Courier and Press, p. C1, C2. Retrieved from http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/image/v2:1425EEA2CB57B634@EANX-NB-153B7CE26F859002@2448902-15399AA8394B0FE3@17-15399AA8394B0FE3@?p=WORLDNEWS
Harrison, T. (1992, October 7). Former USI star dies at 34. The Shield, p. 1, 3. Retrieved from http://digitalarchives.usi.edu/digital/collection/Shield/id/4542/rec/9
Stockman, J. (1992, October 6). ‘Big John’ lost final battle, but never gave up the fight. Evansville Courier, p. C2. Retrieved from http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/image/v2:1425EEA2CB57B634@EANX-NB-153B7CE26F859002@2448902-15399AA8394B0FE3@17-15399AA8394B0FE3@?p=WORLDNEWS
University of Southern Indiana (2017). University of Southern Indiana: Men’s basketball all-time records. Retrieved from https://www.usi.edu/sports/mbasket/mbasketrecords.asp
Zeligman, M. (1976, May 11). Personal pitch works: Oral Roberts land Central’s 7-4 John Hollinden. Evansville Press, p. 12. Retrieved from http://infoweb.newsbank.com/resources/doc/nb/image/v2:1425EEB9C7F2D85F@EANX-NB-146349968C016AAA@2442910-1462A8916AD14225@11-1462A8916AD14225@?p=WORLDNEWS