Former Basketball Coach takes on Youth Violence

Digger Phelps addresses the South Bend (Ind.) School Board on Wednesday. (Warren Skalski/Photo for the Tribune)

When new South Bend Community Schools Superintendent Carole Schmidt called a Town Hall meeting to address concerns in the district, Phelps meticulously went over his personal game plan. As usual, it relied heavily on instinct and adrenalin.

"There are about 200 people there and I get up and ask, 'OK, how can we put a team together of community assets to resolve this issue of youth violence, with education being the foundation?' '' Phelps recalled. "She says, 'The community has to come together.'''

Phelps, 71 going on 40, suddenly felt a familiar pang coaches who live for challenges never lose.

"I jump and say, 'I'll coach it!''' Phelps said. "I had no idea I was going to do that. Not sure what made me.''

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