PNW Undergrad Writes Book About Indiana High School Basketball

April 16, 2019

To write a book is no easy task. Academics, scholars, and writers sometimes spend much of their professional lives developing, researching, and writing a book. This process is a difficult undertaking for anyone, but one PNW history student has gone above and beyond and shown that passion can get the job done. Christian Porter is majoring in History at Purdue Northwest and not long ago, Christian wrote his own book about basketball in the Hoosier state.

The book is entitled Those Were the Days: The Story of a Small Town, A Wild Coach and Indiana Basketball, and is about the history of the Union Township Tigers and their coach, “Wild” Bill Yates. The Union Township Tigers were a high school basketball team in southeastern LaPorte County that saw a lot of success during the “Golden Age” of Indiana High School basketball. Playing out of Kingsford Heights, the Union Township Tigers were a racially diverse team during the Civil Rights Era. Coach Yates led the team to four county basketball championships and LaPorte County’s first ever undefeated regular season in the early 1960s. Cal Evans, an African American that was instrumental in the Tigers’ success, is also highlighted. The Tigers are also believed to be the first team in the county’s history to start five African American players. The book not only tells the story of this amazing team, but also the story of those who lost their identity as Union Township High School was absorbed into LaPorte High School during the 1960s. Christian says that the book is a “nonfiction creative narrative based on real players, coaches and games that made up this exciting time in Indiana Basketball.”


Christian was inspired to write the book because his grandpa grew up in Kingsford Heights and graduated from Union Township in 1964. His grandpa witnessed the glory days of this significant piece of history. And, not to mention, Christian is a self-professed basketball junkie and considers himself to be the closest thing to an “Indiana Basketball historian.”

Interviews were the foundation to Christian’s book and he got the opportunity to sit down with a number of people who witnessed the Union Township Tigers firsthand. Not only did he conduct numerous interviews, Christian also collected nearly 200 pictures for the book. The pictures were a revelation for Christian as he was able to get a visual on the history that many of his interview subjects described.

Those Were the Days: The Story of a Small Town, A Wild Coach and Indiana Basketball was published through a company that gave Christian the freedom to lay the book out the way he wanted. The book can be purchased on eBay, locally at the Historical Society in LaPorte County, or in the JB Grocery located in Kingsford Heights. Christian provided some advice to aspiring writers by saying, “Go for it, especially if you are writing a piece of history never told, like I did. As history majors, our chances grow slimmer everyday as those who lived the history we write about or artifacts we need to examine, pass away or disappear.” Christian has done something truly amazing with his book. This is only the beginning for Christian, and we’re eager to see what is next for him.