SOUTH BEND — Being inducted into any hall of fame is a very special event.
For former New Prairie and current Mishawaka head football coach Bart Curtis, the honor of recently being inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame was shared by his family and many close friends from throughout the area on May 20th at South Bend’s St. Hedwig Memorial Center.
Curtis was among nine guys inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
The other inductees included “Four Horsemen” Elmer Layden and Harry Stuhldreher, Notre Dame standout Bill “Red” Mack who made the first tackle in Super Bowl History. Col. Steven F. Barilich USMC (Ret.) along with Michael Chrobot, Tim Dawson, Frank Johnson and Bradford J. Miller were among the other inductees.
The large contingent of New Prairie supporters came to honor the man who in his 11-year run at New Prairie was 84-38 with sectional titles in 2004 and 2006 and a regional title in 2004.
He led the Cougars to Northern State Conference titles in 2004 and ’06.
While at New Prairie, he received the Jim Andrews Memorial Coach of the Year Award and was recognized by the Moose Krause Chapter of the National Football Foundation with the Contributions to Amateur Football Award.
“I try to look at this and treat it as a profession and not a hobby,” Curtis said, sharing the night with his wife Sara and children Mike, Hannah and Brian. “I think the guys that I have surrounded myself with at New Prairie and Mishawaka shared that vision of making this a profession and we work awfully hard at it. It’s a hard job when things are going good, let alone when they are going poorly.”
Curtis began his career as an assistant in 1985 at South Bend LaSalle, then went to South Bend Washington the following year and served as defensive coordinator for four years.
He became head coach at Maconaquah in 1991 before coming to New Prairie in 1997.
Curtis talked about the time he spent both at Maconaquah and New Carlisle and the memories he forged with those communities. He also took time to mention the many assistant coaches that helped him at New Prairie.
“We raised our family there,” Curtis said of living in New Carlisle. “We came back (from Maconaquah) with three small kids. We left there in 2008 with pretty much three grown kids. Some people leave places where they have bad memories. We left two places as a head coach’s family and we had nothing but good memories. And (the assistant coaches), we just had some really special guys at New Prairie.”
The Curtis family tree has grown with the recent announcement of son Mike accepting a teaching and assistant football coaching position at Warsaw.
“That’s cool,” Bart Curtis said. “I am really proud of him. He is going to have a great career."