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Allen Feldhaus Sr.’s wonderful basketball life

November 2, 2017 FieldsColumn

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When Madison Central won the Sweet 16 title in 2013, Indians Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. (second from left) shared the trophy with his brother Willie, left, his dad, Allen Sr., and his brother Deron.

BY MIKE FIELDS

Allen Feldhaus Sr., who died Saturday at age 77, had a wonderful basketball life.

The Boone County native played for Adolph Rupp at Kentucky.

He coached the high school game at Russell County and Mason County, and guided the Royals to four 10th Region titles, and a Sweet Sixteen runner-up in 1981.

He coached his three sons – Allen Jr., Willie and Deron –  and all three got to play for Mason County in the state tournament under the bright lights in Rupp Arena.

Allen Jr. and Willie followed in their dad’s footsteps into coaching.

In his 20th season at Madison Central, Allen Jr. led the Indians to the state championship in 2013. (Allen Sr. and Allen Jr. are the only father and son to serve as head coach in the KHSAA state finals.)

Willie first coached at Pendleton County before assisting his brother at Madison Central for 11 years. From there he returned to his roots and led the Russell County program that his dad once headed. Willie now coaches at Louisville Male, a school with one of the richest traditions in Kentucky.

Among them, the Feldhaus trio has coached 1,341 victories, which has to be a state record for one family. (512 for Allen Sr.; 588 for Allen Jr.; 241 for Willie.)

Deron, like his dad, played at UK and was part of the Unforgettables, those 1991-92 Cats who lost that epic NCAA Tournament game to Duke.

(And Let’s not forget that Ashton Feldhaus, Allen Jr.’s daughter, also made her granddad proud with her hoops accomplishments. An all-state player at Madison Central, she helped her team to the Sweet Sixteen.) 

Family, friends, former teammates, former players and others gathered at Kenton Station golf course in Maysville on Tuesday to celebrate the life of Allen Feldhaus Sr.

Among those who attended were some of his teammates at UK in the late 1950s and early ’60s: Dickie Parsons, Larry Pursiful, Al Robinson, Carroll Burchett and George Critz.

“I was shocked to see them all there,” Allen Jr. said. “I guess when you play for Coach Rupp, and all the hell you go through, you stick together.”

Guy Strong, who coached at 10th Region rival Clark County, also came to pay his respects.

“I choked up when I saw Coach Strong there,” Allen Jr. said. “I told him, ‘You and dad were cut out of the same cloth.’”

Feldhaus and Strong were old-school coaches. Big, tough, discipline-minded and intimidating.

“But that’s not really what dad was like,” Allen Jr. said. “He loved for everybody to have a good time.”

And he found the perfect retirement job for that – owning and running Kenton Station with Deron.

“That golf course was perfect for dad,” Allen Jr. said. “A lot of people got to see the other side of him.”

Five granddaughters and a grandson adored the man they called “papaw.” He adored them back.

“That was so special to see,” Allen Jr. said.

Also special was that night in Rupp Arena in 2013 when Madison Central put together a breathtaking rally and overtook Ballard for the Sweet Sixteen title. The entire Feldhaus clan was there to revel in the moment.

“That kind of put the icing on the cake,” Allen Jr. said. “When your whole family strives their entire life to achieve something . . . it was definitely a family affair. I know nobody was happier about it than dad. I know I was happy for him.”

Allen Sr. battled cancer the last nine years, but he tried his best not to let his sons know the seriousness of his condition.

“How in the word he made it as long as he did, I’ll never know,” Allen Jr. said. “He didn’t want us to know how much he was suffering. He didn’t want us to worry about him or feel sorry for him.”

A couple weekends ago, Allen Jr. and Willie (along with their wives) visited their dad in the hospital. As they were leaving, he told them to call Deron and “set up a team meeting.”

So the next weekend, when Allen Sr. was back home, his three sons went to visit.

“We had a great ‘team meeting,'” Allen Jr. said. “He got to tell us exactly what he felt, and how proud of us he was. I think we pretty much knew then he was ready. He was at peace after he got to share those things with us.”

Allen Feldhaus Sr. lived a wonderful basketball life, and he shared it to the fullest with his family.

Allen Feldhaus Sr. and son Deron during Mason County’s 1985-86 season. (Herald-Leader photo)

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