By Coach Earl H. Smith, Jr.
In a lifetime one is often asking the question about their destiny? I can only believe that a destiny has no timetable.
Robert “Bob” Stearns will be inducted into the Indiana High School Football Hall of Fame on May 7, 2017. It is considered an honor long overdue by many! When you examine the History of Black athletes and their accomplishments across this country and especially from the state of Indiana, they go unmatched!
The City of Gary ranks among the best in the State of Indiana for outstanding achievements received by former athletes and athletic coaches.
Taking a journey back to the year reveals the beginning of his athletic triumphs. In 1951 Stearns was named quarterback and honored as the first African American to be selected for the 1st team of the Associated Press All-Indiana high school football team from Gary Roosevelt High School.
His high school achievements also included three sports letterman at Roosevelt High School. He was also a member of the Gary Roosevelt Track & Field team that won Roosevelt’s 1st Track & Field State championship in 1951.
Stearns later starred as a running back at the University of Iowa receiving an athletic football scholarship.
Although Gary’s High Schools opened their doors for many African American returning to Gary after college to pursue teaching careers in the 60s, opportunities were limited when it came to head coaching positions. Stearns became a trailblazer in Gary‘s athletic history when he became the first Black head football coach in a Gary high school, other than Gary Roosevelt, in the early 60s, when he was appointed head football coach at Gary Tolleston.
Robert “Bob” Stearns will be one of six inductees into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame. He joins two of his closest friends, who were his teammates and classmates —Carl Taliaferro, inducted in 2013; and Earl Smith, Jr., inducted in 2007.
The Hall of Fame banquet will be held at the Avalon Manor Banquet Hall, 3550 E. U.S. Hwy 30, in Merrillville, Indiana on Sunday, May 7 beginning with a Social Hour at 5:00 p.m. followed by Dinner at 6:00 p.m. The cost is $40. For more information or tickets contact Earl Smith, Jr. (219) 887-1563.