MacCulloch's high school highlight

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

A U.S. college basketball reporter once advised Todd MacCulloch to run up and down the court "like an unplugged refrigerator."

Never did that scribe think the plodding seven-footer would become an icon in his home province. Although MacCulloch was the only Manitoban to ever play in the NBA, winning his first provincial championship when he was in Grade 11 at Shaftesbury High School remains the highlight of a career shortened by a foot problem.

"There are so many things that I'm proud of but, in terms of total elation and pure happiness and joy, I think maybe it is the high school title," he said yesterday. "It's pure; it's not about money or endorsements. We all had the same goal and it was just an unbelievable feeling. I've been trying to recapture that at every level.

"Maybe if I had won the NBA championship, maybe I would have felt that again. Winning the (NBA) Eastern Conference championship was amazing, but winning the first provincial championship in high school is something that I will never, ever forget."

MacCulloch, who scored 50 points in that 61-59 victory over Miles Mac, was one of six inductees into the inaugural Manitoba High School Athletics Association Hall of Fame. The others were Garth Pischke of Silver Heights, Brandon's Angela Chalmers, Churchill High's Bob Town, River East's David McKay and the Daniel McIntyre Maroons football team (1947-52).

"It's great," said MacCulloch, who won the title again in Grade 12. "I'm really glad to be in the first class. I remember hearing lots about Garth Pischke and what a wonderful volleyball player he was, and to be in the same class is awesome. Its a huge honour."

MacCulloch, who played in two NBA finals -- one with Philadelphia and one with New Jersey -- knows he has become a role model here.

"If I could make it to the NBA -- not that everybody can -- but it can be done," said MacCulloch, who also realized a dream when he played for Canada at the Olympics.

MacCulloch now lives on Brainbridge Island, Wash., with his wife and daughter. He works as a sports analyst for FOX and is a world-ranked Pinball player.

Pischke, who was named Manitoba's Athlete of the Century in 2000, was named MVP for every high school volleyball team he played for and cracked the national team as a starter when he was still in Grade 12.

"It is certainly a pleasure for me as one of the inaugural members," said Pischke, who was also involved in basketball, baseball and track and field. "It's feels great to have my name out there, knowing that people will take a look at how my career has gone and how I got there ... I'm almost scared to think about what would have happened if the opportunities weren't there (in high school)."

Pischke, of course, went on to compete in the Olympics and has since become one of the most highly-regarded volleyball coaches in the game today.

Town played volleyball, basketball and ran track.

"It's an honour, a humbling experience when you go in with athletes like Todd MacCulloch, Garth Pischke, Angela Chalmers and Dave McKay," he said.

Chalmers, who now lives in Australia, set numerous high school track records and went on to win a bronze medal in the Olympics.

McKay, who once won the gold medal at the national junior wrestling championship, competed in two Olympics.

The Maroons, under the guidance of Andrew Currie and John Potter, won six straight high school championships.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


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