By Paul Hoverman
By Paul Hoverman
This week brings two events to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert. The two events are ultimate examples of how diverse we are in programming. Thursday night, we welcome to Van Wert, one of the most polarizing and colorful coaches of all-time, Coach Bob Knight. Love him or hate him, you cannot argue with his success both as a coach and a motivator and mentor of college student athletes. He is the second most winning coach of all time in NCAA basketball, only recently edged out by one of his own players, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski. Coach Knight won three National Championships while at neighboring Indiana University. He finished his coaching career at Texas Tech and is now a basketball TV studio analyst and color commentator for ESPN. And did you know he is a native Buckeye, growing up in Orville, Ohio and was recently inducted into the Ohio State University Athletic Hall of Fame?
I recently met a man visiting Van Wert in the Grand Lobby of the NPAC. He claimed to be a friend of Coach Knight's and boasted that Coach Knight had a perfect record of graduating players while at IU. I haven't checked it out to make sure it is factual, but I do know that many players, coaches, and others who have worked with him hold him in very high regard.

Coach Knight was also honored to coach the 1984 Olympic Gold Medal basketball team. In his talks, he often mentions the challenges and thrills of coaching such basketball stars as Michael Jordan. Teamwork was probably one of the most important parts of his coaching career. In his speeches, he is able to relate how teamwork is important in life as well as basketball.

Other exciting side show events happening Thursday night will be Fricker's Hoop Shoot. Fricker's Sports Bar of Van Wert will be at the NPAC, located outside the main entrance with a couple portable basketball hoops and anyone interested in showing off their shooting skills can take a crack at winning some Fricker's gifts and coupons. Even if you aren't interested in showing off your shooting skills, it should be interesting to watch. As a bonus, they will be raffling the two basketball hoops to ticket holders for Coach Knight's Speech at the NPAC.

Another interesting happening going on will be Lima Sportscaster, Vince Koza will be broadcasting his sports talk show live from the NPAC on 93.1 The Fan, who is also one of our sponsors for the night. Come early and see what fun things are happening around the NPAC before the main attraction of Coach Knight's speech at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at the door. We will have a comfortably full house, but I think you can still get a ticket at the door Thursday for this 7:30 p.m. speaking event. We want to thank Eric McCracken and Lee Kinstle GM for helping underwrite Coach Bob Knight's appearance.

Then, to switch direction 180 degrees, we welcome an American institution when the "girls next door", The Lennon Sisters of Lawrence Welk fame bring their show to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. For 13 years, many watched these girls grow up on the Lawrence Welk Show, seen on Saturday nights to all of America. Their still youthful voices have that irresistible charm and harmony that so many Americans fell in love with during the 1960's. Not only will you enjoy hearing them sing, but I think you will enjoy watching rare video of their many TV appearances.

The Lennon Sisters have been performing regularly in Branson, MO and we feel fortunate to be able to bring their road show to the NPAC as part of our Community Concert Series. They are just about sold out, but you might squeeze in the balcony if you get there early. Tickets are $30 and the box office will open at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday for this 7:30 p.m. concert. Another busy weekend at the NPAC and just more proof that you can see the stars at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center in Van Wert! FINE