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Noblesville Lions, guests bring sense of community

If you want to join a philanthropic organization that does good in the community, the Noblesville Lions Club is one of the many.

The Noblesville Lions’ volunteering and charitable giving help strengthen our community, as do many, many of our charitable organizations here in Noblesville.

Besides all of the Lions’ volunteering — giving KidSight vision screenings to local school children, assisting Gleaners with food distribution at Hamilton Heights High School, ringing the bell for Salvation Army, helping the Lions-sponsored Noblesville High School Leos Club to have a book bag drive for the homeless and give away grade-school dictionaries — the Lions put on an annual pork chop dinner in June and organize a Dodgeball and Cornhole tournament in September. Noblesville Lions earned the Indiana District Directors’ 500 percent Model Club for the Lions Club International Foundation. The local Lions also put on an annual Lions Club pork chop dinner in June and organized a Dodgeball and Cornhole Tournament fundraiser, this year, on Sept. 11.

There is always an interesting guest speaker at each regular Lions meeting, typically at 6:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.

Just last week, I was invited to attend the Lions Christmas meeting and dinner, a guest night at The Farm, the former Boys & Girls Club purchased and renovated by Culver’s owner Jeff Meyer, who spoke at a Lions’ September meeting. The Farm is a beautiful workplace and venue, and I will write about it in another column.

The guest speaker during this particular Lions Christmas meeting was NHS’s new boys varsity basketball coach Scott McClelland.

He said, “I would really love for all of you to come to a game.”

He said, “It’s a little bit of a slow start,” with a season record of 1-2, as of last week’s meeting. On Friday, the team lost its away non-conference game against Carmel, 64-49, and on Saturday, Millers won their away non-conference game against Anderson, 72-64. So now their season record is 2-3, with their next game this Friday night at home against Westfield Shamrocks and Saturday night at Hamilton Heights.

I haven’t really read many articles about McClelland since this summer when he was hired. So I honed in to listen closely to his talk at the Lions Club meeting.

Most high school basketball fans are aware that McClelland led Division 1A Morristown Yellow Jackets to a state title in 2018 before he came to Noblesville, jumping to 4A basketball.

He said it was the small town feel that attracted him to our city. He’s originally from the Muncie area, Yorktown High School, where he played basketball. That’s not far from my own alma mater, another small school out in the middle of farm fields, Shenandoah High School. Our Shenandoah Raiders made it all the way to the Basketball State Finals in 1981 before class basketball. Led by coach Bob Heady, we lost to Vincennes, a team that went on to win the 1981 State Championship. Former NHS varsity coach Dave McCollough now coaches my Raiders.

McClelland for the past six years had coached the Yellow Jackets in Shelby County, “home of the famous Copper Kettle,” he said. “If you’ve never eaten there, I highly encourage all of you to.”

Listening to the coach, in his 19th year as head basketball coach, talk about small towns, made me feel at ease. After high school, McClelland played a year of college basketball at Ancilla College, a small school in Plymouth, Ind. Before he coached at Morristown, McClelland had stops at Western Boone and Brebeuf high schools. “When the Noblesville job came open, I felt that was something I needed to look at,” he said. “I’m very excited to be here.”

McClelland is married with a 10-year-old daughter.

He looked around at the Lions and their guests in the audience at their Christmas dinner. “It’s great to see community people come together,” he said. “I think we’ve lost touch with that in the world that we’re living in.”

McClelland said, “I feel lucky, getting up everyday to be around young people.”

He likes the traditional small-town values that he wants to instill in his basketball kids’ today. “Being here tonight gives me a sense of community, and I think that’s important,” he said.

From a basketball standpoint, he’s had some kids play really well,” he said. This season, the team will use “quickness and skills to the players’ advantage,” McClelland said.

One thing that he would hope that players would take away? “Perseverance,” he said, “so when they get out of playing, they know how to deal with setbacks.”

Why he wanted to be a coach? “I think I knew at a young age that I really wanted to be a teacher. I enjoyed coaching. I enjoyed being in the classroom. I enjoyed being around young people. So that was always right there, and I didn’t really look at anything else.”

He said, “I’m not sure there is anything else.” Having grown up in Muncie and Yorktown, spending 13 years (coaching in Morristown), he said, “I think the thing that I bring to Noblesville is a sense of community.”

-Earlier at this same Lions Club meeting, Noblesville Lions’ most recent past president Julia Kozicki — who was the club’s first female president and who also ran for Noblesville Mayor in the May 2019 Republican primary and who celebrated her 10th anniversary last week of winning big on the Jeopardy TV game show — sang Christmas carols for dinner guests with Beth Lively on guitar. The duo, in the past, has been joined by Lively’s twin sister, Lynn Sylvester, in a trio, singing and playing music at the former annual Tri Kappa Breakfast with Santa at Forest Park Inn. (I still miss that excellent event for kids.) All three of the women are hometown folks; Kozicki is a 1987 Noblesville High School graduate and Lively and Sylvester are 1971 NHS graduates.

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.