"They've shared Wabash athletic victories and defeats for 32 years, and now they're both in the Wabash Hall of Fame: Max Servies '58 and Chick Clements 'H77 talk about sports, the College, and the work that is a labor of love."
A Hall of Fame Friendship
Max Servies '58 stepped to the podium to a standing
ovation at this year's Athletic Hall of Fame Banquet, accepting the thanks
of the College for his 38 years of inspiring and coaching Little Giants.
That same night, Chick Clements 'H77, the College's equipment manager for 32 years and the man who has befriended and mentored literally thousands of Wabash student-athletes, received an equally rousing welcome into the Hall of Fame.
But as legendary as their accomplishments for Wabash are, in a world where there are so few constants, their friendship of over 40 years seems even more impressive.
The College's most successful wrestling coach sat down with the man who has been both wise counsel and fishing buddy for Wabash men over the years to reminisce about Wabash athletics and their shared experiences of them:
"Chick and I knew each other growing up," Max explains, "because Chick was two years ahead of me in high school."
But, the story of Max and Chick really begins when they both worked at a Crawfordsville gas station some years later. Max worked there part-time while attending Wabash.
"We washed a lot of cars, didn't we, Max," Chick recalls. Servies went on to teach at Crawfordsville High School, but it wasn't long before he was invited to join the Wabash coaching staff.
"It was a thrill for me to come back here to coach," Max says. "My old football coach, Garland Frazier, called me up and said he needed a football coach."
Max also coached wrestling in the winter and coached track under Owen Huntsman in the spring.
"That was fun," Max recalls. "I didn't know much about track, but I helped him with the setting up and organization."
As Max and Chick keep talking, it occurs to me that their presence at Wabash is tied to the greatest improvements to Wabash's athletic facilities and programs.
"The College didn't have anything when I first started," Max states in his calm, matter-of-fact manner. "The facilities were not good, but we were still proud. So, we made due with what we had, and it was fun.
Wabash built a new stadium in 1965, around the same time President Byron K. Trippet asked Max to take on the duties of Athletic Director. ("I'm too young for that job," Max recalls telling the president.)
"Back then, of course, is when Chick came in," Max says.
"Max brought me here in 1966 when we started to put things together," Chick interjects.
"We added on some nice, new offices, a training room, some locker rooms, a swimming pool, and even a recreation gym," Max adds.
"Our new complex was finished in 1968," Chick says. "I think Max must have had a vision for this place."
"Just knowing that Chick was interested in sports when I became athletic director was helpful," Max says, changing the subject. A longtime equipment manager had just retired, and a few interim managers had come and gone.
"I said, 'Chick, we have this job over here, and I know we can't pay much, but maybe we can at least match what you're making. You'll be able to come and enjoy athletics, be involved with the students, and have some fun along the way.'"
"And the rest in history," Chick smirks.
"Chick thought it over and said, 'Yeah, I'll do it,'" Max says.
"I didn't have to think very long," Chick interjects again. "Max tells everybody that he started me out at $100 a week, but I have it in writing that it was $90."
"Max must have seen something in me that convinced him I might possess a little longevity," Chick laughs. "I've not missed a day's work in 32 years."
Suddenly, the epithet "The Cal Ripkin, Jr. of Wabash" comes up.
"He gave up his streak, but I'm not ready to quit," fires Chick. "Besides, [my wife] Janet doesn't want me in the house."
With more than 68 years of Wabash athletic history between them, it's unlikely that Max and Chick would agree on the funniest moment they've seen at Wabash. But they agree that some of the best come out of the days of basketball coach "Snowy" Simpson.
"Snowy was a Jimmy Durante kind of shriveled up guy." Max says. "He always had a lot of funny stories and he did a lot of funny things."
Max recalls the time Simpson had the Sphinx Club fire off a small cannon at a Butler basketball game.
"It caused us a lot of trouble," Max explains. "The Butler coach was in the huddle with his guys before they came out on the floor for the tip-off. And so Snowy has his guys in the huddle, and whenever Snowy was huddled with his guys, you couldn't even see Snowy 'cause he's only this tall," Max says, gesturing about four feet off the floor, "and he always had a lot of tall players.
"And he's saying, 'OK, guys, I want you to look out of the corner of your eyes at the Butler huddle,'" Max continues. "And the team is looking over. 'In the next 10 seconds, the cannon is going to go off. I want you to take a look,' Snowy says. 'Be ready for that concussion, and watch their team and see what happens.'
"So they're looking down there," Max says, "and BAHOOEY! The cannon goes off and their coach jumps way in the air."
"And the lights go out from the concussion of the cannon," adds Chick.
"And so he has his guys laughing like hyenas before they go out onto the floor," says Max as he and Chick chuckle a bit over the memory, just one of many from what Chick calls "one hell of a ride."
"And," he adds, "It's not over yet."