High School basketball
Liberty needs to honor Pete Prokop
Last summer, upon my return from Florida, a friend said to me, “You should take time to go and see Pete Prokop.” When I arrived at Pete’s home, we talked for some time. Pete was frail, but he was glad to share time with me. I had long ties to Pete Prokop. I played against him as a player, coached against him as an assistant at Champion High School in the mid-’60s and listened to his advice as a coach at Liberty in the mid-’90s.
After an hour or so, we got around to a subject close to Pete’s heart — the naming of the basketball floor at Liberty to honor him for his contributions to Leopards’ basketball. With its mention, Pete got up slowly, walked over to his desk and pulled out an article I’d written some years earlier. Through the article, I had hoped the Liberty Board of Education would, indeed, name the floor — in the soon to be completed new school — in his honor. The board decided not to do as I suggested. But why?
Later in the day, as I walked down the hall where the Hall of Fame for athletes is located at Liberty High, the one string that connected so many of the athletes was Pete Prokop. I make no claim that Pete was a “charmer.” He was a product of his time. In his mind, the direct and forceful approach was best. Political correctness was something for the next generation of coaches to deal with, not him. Playing for Pete wasn’t for the weak of heart.
But, I would bet that if those on the wall were given such a vote, Pete’s name would be on the floor just a few feet away! Our lives are made up of pluses and minuses. We have regrettable moments and we have rewarding ones as well. In Pete’s life, he shared much of both with the Liberty community.
Pete was an educator and coach who earned the right to be honored as I’ve suggested. I know that as he held my previous article in his hand, he knew his time was limited. But, he held out hope that he’d live to see his name on the court at Liberty High School. I do believe of all the honors he had accumulated, the floor naming would best speak to his legacy at Liberty.
Is it not time for the Liberty Board to re-vote this issue? Or is it not time for the Hall of Famers to step forward to “vote” for their coach, a tough-minded, straight-shooting person who shaped much of their lives into who they are today.
Pete won’t be there, but I’m sure Mrs. Prokop and the family would gladly represent him in his absence.
Dave Majick Cortland