The Halstead Connection
Rupp was born just outside Halstead to Mennonite German immigrants, the fourth of six children. He grew up on 163-acre farm which his father (Heinrich) homesteaded. He first became interested in the sport of basketball at an early age when Halstead won the first of two 1938 Team consecutive Kansas State High School titles (1908, 1909). According to interviews,he and his brothers stuffed rags into a gunnysack which his mother sewed up to use as a basketball on the family farm. Later, after growing to a sturdy 6-foot-2, Rupp starred on the Halstead High School team, averaging over 19 points a game in both his junior and senior years. Rupp also served as team captain and unofficial coach. After his 1919 graduation from Halstead High School, Rupp attended the University of Kansas. Rupp was a reserve on the basketball team under legendary coach Dr. Forrest “Phog” Allen from 1919 to 1923. In Rupp's junior and senior college seasons (1921-22 and 1922-23), KU had outstanding basketball squads. Later, both of these standout KU teams would be awarded the Helms National Championship, recognizing the Jayhawks as the top team in the nation during those seasons.
A Coaching Legacy
After graduation, Rupp looked for opportunities in banking but soon opted to take a teaching and coaching job at Burr Oak High School in Kansas. Disappointed in the facilities in Burr Oak, he later moved to Marshalltown, Iowa where he coached wrestling, a sport he knew nothing about at the time and learned from a book. Adolph RuppIn 1926-29, Rupp accepted the basketball head coaching position at Freeport High School, in Illinois, where he also taught history and economics. He stayed at Freeport for four years, building a total record of 66-17 and guiding his team to a third-place finish in the 1929 state tournament. Rupp’s destiny was fulfilled when accepted a job to coach at the University of Kentucky in 1930. His Wildcat teams won 4 NCAA National Championships (1948, 1949, 1951, 1958) and one NIT title in 1946. His teams appeared in 6 Finals Fours, captured 27 Southeastern Conference regular season titles, and won 13 SEC tournaments. Rupp's Kentucky teams also finished ranked #1 on 6 occasions in the final AP college basketball poll. Further, both Rupp's 1933 and 1954 Kentucky squads were awarded the Helms National Championship. Four times he was chosen the national coach of the year, and SEC coach of the year 7 times. In 1966 he won the NBAC Coach of the year title. He was chosen to be a co-coach during the 1948 olympics, and was inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame in 1969. Rupp's teams set an NCAA record by winning 129 consecutive games at home. His up-tempo style helped to revolutionize the sport, and Kentucky's success moved the game toward big-time national exposure. When Rupp retired in 1972, he had established a career record of 876 - 190, which was later broken by North Carolina's Dean Smith, Texas Tech’s Bobby Knight, and Duke's Mike Krzyewski (coach k). He coached 42 years at the UK, winning 82 percent of his games, and is still ranked in the top three all time for winning percentage. The Adolph Rupp Trophy, named in Rupp's honor, has been awarded annually since 1972 by the Associated Press to the best player in men's college basketball. Rupp died at age 76 in Lexington, Kentucky, on December 10, 1977, the very night UK defeated his alma mater, Kansas, at Allen Fieldhouse. Fittingly, the game that night was promoted as "Adolph Rupp Night", in honor of Rupp. A little more than a year before his death, the Wildcats moved from their 12,000 seat on-campus arena, Memorial Coliseum, to the (then) new 24,000 seat Rupp Arena. The arena continues to play host to Kentucky home games. In addition, there have been numerous NCAA tournament games played in Rupp Arena over the years, including the 1985 men's Final Four.
A Tradition Continues
The 48th edition of the Adolph Rupp Invitational Basketball Tournament features perennial teams Andale (since 1995), Cheney (since 1976), Garden Plain (since 1979), Haven (since 1979), Rose Hill (since 1997), and host Halstead (since 1970). Inman began coming to the Rupp in 2004 and Moundridge in 2008. On December 5, 2008, Rupp was inducted as a charter member of the inaugural Halstead High School Hall of Fame. Several extended family members attended the Hall of Fame events, and Adolph Rupp, Jr. sent an audio taped message that evening. Halstead High School is very proud to host the Rupp. We believe that the communities currently in the tournament represent excellence in a variety of ways. In addition, teams are followed well by their fan base regardless of their record. Thank you for your contribution in making this Rupp Tournament another great event.