The Jay Graves Report

How Gary became the most DOMINANT track and field city in Indiana! “219 Holla Back”

Welcome to The G! Once home of the best track and field programs in the state and in most years in the country!

I was at the Indiana High School Athletic Association State Track and Field Meet  over the weekend lookin’ through the program and a tear came to my eye showin’ my daughter how dominant my home town of Gary, Indiana used to be in thing we call track and field. From 1903 to 2017, which is 114 years of state champions, 47 (41 boys and 6 girls titles) of them came from a place we call G.I. Will The G stand up and brush ya shoulders off!!

We owned this state at one time bruh and there was nothin’ boyz or girlz could do about it. What some folks meant for bad God turned into a blessin’. Gary OWNED the state in track and field for decades because duns that looked like me that lived in Northwest Indiana were forced to live in a small section of the area as a result of racism that turned out to be our greatest blessin’ from a sports perspective as well as academic.

Let’s keep it real or all the way 100, whichever comes 1st! When I was growin’ up in Gary it was a very strong and vibrant city full of people that looked like me. We were insulated, to a large degree, from the racism that boyz experienced growin’ up in most cities. Why? Because everybody looked like me. All of the police officers, firemen, 90 percent of our teachers, lawyers, doctors, businessmen and women and all of the politicians were black. So as a child I never dealt with people callin’ me the N-word, blatant racism or gettin’ pulled over by the police and gettin’ harassed because I was in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time in the wrong skin. I never experienced that foolishness until I went to college.

Now don’t get it twisted, we were all livin’ in Gary as result of the racism that existed around us. At the time, Northwest Indiana was one of the most segregated areas in the United States through the 1980’s. Why? Because black folks could only live in Gary, Hammond and East Chicago. We couldn’t live in the surroundin’ areas like Merrillville, Crown Point, Hobart, Schererville, Valporaiso and Hobart.

Well…you could live there but only at your own risk. When I was a freshman at Gary Roosevelt in 1981. Our varsity football team played at Valporaiso and they burned a 30 foot cross on us at the end of the third quarter. I was on the bench in street clothes and remember it like it was yesterday. So again, duns weren’t tryin’ to live where they weren’t wanted.

Everybody on the outside lookin’ in saw the crime rate and talked bad about The G but those of us on the inside lookin’ out saw how much the coaches and teachers loved us. Regardless of the high school you went to or the sport you played in Gary you loved it with all of your heart because the administration love you back. That was the reason why The G was so dominant in sports for decades. It was the love for the city and the schools boyz and girlz represented!!

The fact that we were condensed to a very small area with all of the best talent in the state made it almost unfair for a boy to show up at the Sectional meet. The Gary Sectional was better than the state meet bruh. I can remember sittin’ in the stands with the fellas takin’ bets. It was crazy. Whoever won the sectional in The G won the state in most events. Well let’s keep it real…the sprints and relays were all that boyz ran around our way. Did you just read where I said that G.I. owned 47 state team titles in 114 years? That’s NUTS!!! That means that 41 percent of Indiana’s State Champions are from Gary!!! Do you hear me?

I can remember the ‘Velt showin’ up in the early ’80’s at the State Meet and goin’ 1, 2, 3 in the 100, 1,2,3 in the 200, winnin’ both the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays, the 400 meters and goin’ to the crib. Now the dun that got 4th in the Gary Sectional was probably faster than everybody else in the state but he couldn’t get to the state meet because he had the wrong address playboy. That’s how good Gary used to be. From Froebel to Roosevelt to Tolleston to West Side to Horace Mann to Lew Wallace boyz and girlz held it down.

Now things have changed over the past 20 years or so and now folks that look like me can live all over Northwest Indiana. Merrillville is full of brothers now. Crown Point, Schererville, Hobart, Munster and so on and so forth look funny with all of my G.I. classmates and friends kid’s representin’ those schools.

Unfortunately, with the steel mills slowly driftin’ away and the economy about bone dry The G isn’t the same G that it used to be. All of the talent that filled the city is no longer there anymore. There’s been a mass exodus because there aren’t the same job opportunities that kept people in the city. And it’s okay now to move to the suburbs because boyz aren’t burnin’ crosses and vandalizin’ your property like they used to.

Antonise Christian holdin’ the G down!” Photo: The Times/NWI

When I was a kid there were 6 high schools in the city all competin’ for the best of the best. Now there are only three high schools and only one is a Gary Public School which is West Side.

Pike’s Lynna Irby folks are from The G!

Unfortunately, Gary had only one little girl reppin’ all of that history. Her name was Antonise Christian from West Side. She was in a no win situation because she had to compete with phenom  from Indianapolis Pike, Lynna Irby, that won the 100, 200 and 400 meters all four years!

I salute Antonise for puttin’ the history of The G on her shoulders and holdin’ us up. That was huge! She finished in 2nd in the 400 meters and 7th in the 100 meters. I need everyone that’s  from Gary, Indiana all over the world to stand up and applaud this young lady for holdin’ our hometown up with so much style and grace.

But guess what playa? Indianapolis Pike’s Lynna Irby’s folks are from The G! So even though boyz aren’t in G.I. like they used to be. That G.I. blood is still holdin’ the state meet down! G.I. Stand Up and stop me when I start lyin’!



Playas Thesaurus: 

1) Dun: noun – the person in question, dude, guy, etc. It’s whoever I’m talkin’ about and its non-gender specific.

2) The G: noun – Gary, Indiana

The G is excluded from the endings of all words because the G is near and dear to my heart because I’m from “The G” which is Gary, Indiana. So I only use the G when I’m talkin’ about “The G!”

The caption under the photo’s are real talk!



1 Comment

  1. Jay, great story about “The G”. My wife’s mom and dad graduated from Horace Mann. We make an annual visit to Calumet Park Cemetery, to decorate their graves, before Memorial Day. I strongly admire your blood strong loyalty to Gary. You have a right to be so proud. Don’t change a bit. Honor the G.

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