Harold Summers

Year Inducted: 2021

Category: Players

Schools / Organizations:
Lawrenceville High School
Indiana University
US  Army


For all he did as a coach, Harold Summers should be remembered as a player first.  A senior on the 1948 Lawrenceville High School basketball team that was ranked among the state’s elite in a one-class system, Summers was the Indians’ main gun.  “He was our best player, an outstanding shooter and scorer,” said Jim Wright, a sophomore on that Lawrenceville squad that finished 21-5 under coach E.V. “Curly” Halt. “Lawrenceville’s main play at the time was to set an inside screen. He would use the screen and shoot a 20-to-25-footer. He was deadly on those.”  Summers was one of the first big scorers on the Indians’ basketball team as he totaled 1,752 points before graduating in 1948. He was a multi-time All-North Egypt Conference selection in basketball and was also a standout on the baseball diamond.  After accepting an athletic scholarship to Indiana University, to play both basketball and baseball, Summers saw his collegiate career cut short when he joined the U.S. Military to serve during the Korean War.  He returned home and finished college on the G.I. Bill, then embarked on a teaching career.  Summers taught for three years in St. Francisville, before moving on to Ader Junior High School in Rantoul. He coached basketball there for 25 years, compiling a 707-198 record. His teams advanced to the state tournament 19 times, won junior high state championships in 1963 and 1968, and finished second three times. He was also a successful junior high school baseball coach, as his squads won one state title, while placing on other occasions. The city named a street after him upon his retirement.  “He was just a tremendous person,” said Summers’ widow, the former Suzanne Smith. “He didn’t play favorites, he played people on ability, and that’s why everyone loved him.”  Summers died on June 30, 1982, his 30th wedding anniversary. On Dec. 5, 2001, the city of Rantoul named the street that led to the school “Harold Summers Drive.” “There were several suggestions, but they finally decided to name the street after him,” Suzanne Summers said. “It was frigid when they had the ceremony, but so many of his former players were there, and said nice things about him. A lot of them talked about how he had changed their lives for the good.”

From Ken Crawford in 2019: “I just talked to Charlie Gillespie from Lawrenceville.  He is the father of Gus Gillespie who is now the coach at Marion, IL High School.  Charlie began his teaching career at Lawrenceville in 1960 and has followed basketball throughout his life.  He said that when he came to Lawrenceville that the name Harold Summers was the gold standard with regard to basketball.  Summers held the scoring record there for many years and many of the locals thought his records would never be broken.  Then along came Jay Schidler, Doug Novseck, Marty Simmons, and Rick Leighty who all broke Harold’s record.  As a side note, Jay Schidler’s dad was a teammate of Harold Summers and was a good player, but I am told Summers was the real deal.”