The Power of the Written Word

        Hetty Gray quotes by hetty gray:

Questions by Kevin Elixman of The Franklin

Kevin: "What prompted you to write this book?"

"My primary impetus in writing Net Prophet is to see that Bill is properly recognized --- not only for the heights of his achievement in Indiana basketball, but, more importantly, for the depth of his integrity and character. Many of today's sports books focus on things I consider shallow and unimportant in the wider scheme of things."

Kevin: Why now?

"Until now, the major print media has ignored Bill Garrett. Other than occasional article in Indiana University publications touting his inroads in collegiate basketball, his story remains untold. We have excellent athletes today --- what we really need are athletes who are excellent role models."

Kevin: When did you decide to write this book?

"I’ve had this book on my mind since I was a little girl. My father was a big Bill Garrett fan. I virtually grew up on Garrett lore. About four years ago, I approached Bill’s nephew, James Garrett. Through his father, Jim, I met Betty Garrett Inskeep. After one interview with her, I began what would become a three-year research and writing effort.

"In fact, she gave me her total support from the beginning. She told me as I left the house that first day that several professional sportswriters had approached her to do a book about Bill, but she had turned each one of them down. When I asked why she turned them away --- she said that they didn’t ask the right questions. Curious, I prodded her a bit. She responded that all they wanted to talk about was basketball. In contrast, my first question was ‘How was Bill as a husband and a father?’ To her, my approach was the correct one."

Kevin: How much are Bill’s family involved in this project?

"Bill’s widow, Betty, and his four children are intimately involved in this book. Their contributions are invaluable, and their fervor to see this book published equals mine. Bill’s role as a husband and father are key to his life, and his personal life is the centerpiece of this book.

Kevin: In your opinion, what makes it such a mistake for journalists to have ignored Bill Garrett?

"As far as I am concerned, to have nothing in print about Bill’s unique story is a real sin of omission. Not only did he lead his Shelbyville Golden Bear teammates to a record-breaking State Championship in 1947, but, he also went on to break the "color barrier" in the Big Ten basketball at Indiana University. What’s more, he did it with such poise and class. I kept thinking that someone would do something, but no one ever did. In the end, I decided to do it myself."

Kevin: What about research? Did you limit your research strictly to Indiana?

"Oh no. As a matter of fact, I traveled thousands of miles by car and by plane --- not to mention the hundreds of letters and telephone interviews involved. More to the point, each person I interviewed was not only cooperative, but also enthusiastic and supportive. It’s been a real thrill for me as a Hoosier sports fan, too. I’ve had the privilege to work with men whose names have been ‘household words’ in Indiana basketball for years. Their contributions to this book cannot be underestimated."

Kevin: To what do you credit your ability to write this book?

"Any talent I have as a writer I credit to my education in the Shelbyville school system. Beginning with Miss Hazel Ford at Thomas Hendricks Grade School --- in my opinion, the best English and reading teacher in the state --- and ending with a stellar faculty at Shelbyville High School, I am a direct product of excellent teachers. What’s more, our teachers not only provided excellent instructions and set high standards for us, but, by personal example, they reinforced the code of high moral and ethical conduct typical of the time."

Kevin: What is your personal assessment of this book?

"It has been a wonderful labor of love."

Kevin: …and Bill Garrett the man?

"He was grown up long before his time, and his life reflected his upbringing --- a loving family and a strong faith in God."

Kevin: How should this book be viewed?

Focused on Bill Garrett himself, the book is far more than a simple recitation of Bill’s incredible string of credits. To put it concisely, Net Prophet is the story of a man --- a good, decent, Christian man."