bob_fralaAn all-around athlete in high school, one of the inductees into the Salem Sports Hall of Fame in 1987 continued to gain prominence and honors in the sports world on the coaching level. A 1949 SCHS graduate, Bob Frala was a three sports star in his high school years.

In tandem with Jim Bredar, as the “Gold Dust Twins”, Frala started on a road to successful ventures in the sports world in football, basketball and track as a member of Wildcat athletic teams.

After graduation, he attended the University of Illinois, concentrating on the coaching aspects of sports. While at Illinois, Illini Coach Ray Eliot said that “Bob Frala has one of the most comprehensive notebooks on football I have received from all of my classes.”


howard_thurmanThe Salem coach who changed the complexion of the game for Wildcat football followers and the only coach to win conference titles in the three major sports, Howard G. Thurman, had a tie-in and, as he said, “a love affair with,” Salem sports that spanned seven decades.

A 1930 graduate of Salem High School during which time he participated in football and track, Coach Thurman installed the split-T formation in 1952 for the first time in Salem. During his seven seasons as football coach, the Wildcats won two North Egypt Conference crowns, finished second five times and ended with a 35-7-2 NEC mark and a 42-19-2 overall record. Thurman-coached teams won the championship in 1952 and again in 1956.

Although they finished second in 1953, losing to Lawrenceville 19-18 in the opener. Salem went on to eight straight wins, capping a record-setting 348-point season with a resounding 55-13 romp over Mt. Vernon in the finale.


jim_bredarOne of Salem’s premier basketball players, who really had only one year of prominence in high school, gained most of his fame after high school graduation in college and in military service. Jim Bredar, a 1949 SCHS graduate, was standout enough to be named to the all-conference basketball team.

As one erstwhile sportswriter called him, “the Radar Kid,” Bredar scored 422 points his senior year, as the Wildcats finished with an 18-9 record. That team had a 14-6 record in regular season play, uniquely 7-3 at home and 7-3 on the road.


The Salem Community High School basketball team that set scoring records in the state tournament and won the hearts of many of the fans at the 1943 state tournament, was the second team to gain induction into the Salem Sports Hall of Fame. The 1942-43 Wildcats basketball team that won third place in the tournament was only the second Salem team to make it to the state tournament.

That team, posting a 27-7 record while winning the third place honors, also won the North Egypt Conference title, the regional championship (50-40 over Centralia) and the sectional championship.


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