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Historian works to make sure Wyandotte High School’s rich basketball history isn’t forgotten

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 15, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Wyandotte High School's historian believes it's one of the oldest public high schools west of the Mississippi, with one of the richest histories in the classroom and on the basketball court.

Another Kansas City-area historian thinks the school’s basketball program is among the top three in the country when it comes to state titles.

But, if you roam the halls or the gym at Wyandotte, you’d never know.

Only at a place like Wyandotte can someone like Calvin Thompson reach the highest level possible.

He played basketball at the University of Kansas, was drafted by the New York Knicks and played professionally overseas.

“A chubby kid off 9th and Quindaro that doctors said would never walk again," Thompson said.

The rich history of Wyandotte is believed to be one of the most storied in the nation.

Twenty state championships courtesy of heroes like Thompson, Larry Drew and Lucius Allen, who played alongside Lew Alcindor (also known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) at the University of California-Los Angeles.

For every hero, there must be a villain, like Washington High School and NBA alumnus Earl Watson. Even he can appreciate the (Wyandotte High) "Bulldog Greatness."

"As soon as you open these doors and walk down the stairs into the gym, you hear the band rocking — the place is crowded, standing room only," Watson said. "You see the banners. You know the tradition. My palm starts sweating even thinking about it."

Locals know about the talent that has graced Wyandotte's gym, but there aren’t many banners, plaques or pictures to commemorate all those state championships.

Some of the memorabilia was nearly thrown out had it not been for Craig Delich, a 1965 Wyandotte High School graduate, retired teacher and school historian.

“I think what makes Wyandotte special, at least to me, is that if you cut me, I’d bleed red and white," he said.

Delich’s blood, sweat, and tears are the reason many former Bulldogs are set to get the recognition they’re due.

He, Thompson and a host of others have gathered plaques and pictures that will soon hang in the gym and throughout the school.

"Today’s a glory day too for the kids," Delich said.

Watson added, “The future is unlimited. This beautiful school that booed me for so long needs to be celebrated, you know what I mean. When I’m saying, we’ve got to celebrate this school, I really mean it.”