Friends, family and loved ones are making sure Chad Lambert’s legacy of improving the lives of Logansport’s youth athletes lives on.
Lambert was a beloved youth coach whose life tragically ended much too soon at the age of 31 earlier this year.
His friend Brad Darche helped organize fundraisers to pay for a state-of-the-art shooting gun for basketball at Logansport High School in Lambert’s honor. A brand new Shoot-A-Way Gun 10K was recently delivered to the school.
“I have a golf tournament every year in my father’s name [Harvey Darche] and this year with what happened to Chad it’s only fitting that I do it for him and decided to get a shooting gun for the high school because they don’t have one,” Darche explained. “The neat thing about it is the golf tournament is June 22, so we would have to wait ’til then to buy it, but I have a friend who paid for it up front, Jeff Luxenberg, and the golf tournament is going to pay him back. That was a very good deed he did. We’re also having a music benefit June 15 at Chevi’s, three bands for this. It’s just a really neat thing for the high school to have in my opinion. They don’t have one and it can be used by boys and girls. It’s a great shooting tool.
“It was $6,700. Like I said Jeff Luxenberg paid for that and then the music and the golf tournament will be paying him back.”
Developed under the guidance of Steve Nash and endorsed by Steph Curry, the Shoot-A-Way Gun 10K is now the Berries to call their own.
“It is state of the art,” Darche said. “The University of Michigan uses it, West Virginia, Golden State Warriors and several more. It’s called the Shooting Gun 10K, it’s the top of the line version. The trajectory of your ball is computerized, it can tell you how many shots you’re making, how many you’re taking, just a really neat tool to improve your shooting.
“That’s the top of the line. That’s the best they make. It’s very good.”
The Shoot-A-Way 10K has a coaching app where coaches can keep track of every player on the team, where they shoot from as well as their progression over time. It has a smart phone app that allows players to monitor all workouts and track their improvement. The touch screen allows players to receive passes where they want in a matter of seconds. They can take fast shots or slow shots. The Shoot-A-Way 10K has consistent pass placement with a patented soft touch throwing arm. It has a makes counter and charts percentages and an adjustable net to help get the proper arch on shots.
Incoming LHS sophomore Noah Lange was utilizing the shooting gun soon after its purchase, firing up jump shots at a rapid pace. The shooting gun allows basketball players to put up countless jumpers.
“As many as they want. Shoot ’til their arms fall off,” Darche said.
Noah’s father and Logansport varsity assistant boys basketball coach Matt Lange said the program is grateful for the gift.
“When the idea came up from Noah and Brad, I knew it would be a great thing for us because that’s something we need and we had before with Jerry Hoover. We needed something to call our own. So it’ll be a really big addition to our program,” he said, adding that Lambert’s presence is certainly missed.
“When he came on board with Brad they were a big part of our middle school program. He did a really good job and really loved it. This is a way we can pay tribute to him,” he said.
Lambert’s parents, Tim and Joni, have been moved by the community’s support.
“We have been overwhelmed by the response of the community. It’s been wonderful,” Joni said. “He would be thrilled.”
Lambert died just three days before his 32nd birthday on March 1 of this year.
“He came by that morning in fact. And that’s what was so shocking,” Joni said. “He was going to work, going to work a split shift. It was 6:15 in the morning, he always came through and checked on us and made sure. He said, ‘I’m going to work a split shift today, I’ll see you, I’ll come by the bank.’ That didn’t happen. It was unbelievable. He’d had no problems.”
Lambert was at his job as a custodian at McHale Auditorium at Logansport High School when he passed away. By all indications, he liked his job and was enjoying life at the time of his passing.
And he also relished being a key player as a coach for Logansport’s feeder systems in basketball and baseball.
“He loved it,” Joni said. “He was looking forward to coaching this group. He was looking forward to baseball season. Nothing wrong, everything was well.”
Lambert’s personality was a perfect fit for coaching, and his motivational tactics were legendary. With his distinctive voice, his catchphases include, “You gotta believe,” “Let’s go,” “Never give up” and “Play with heart.”
Unfortunately, he had an underlying heart condition that was the cause of his death.
“Enlarged heart, twice its size,” Joni said. “Hypertensive heart disease. This is what it’s classified as. His heart was twice its size. No symptoms.”
“Never complained, said he was feeling fine,” Tim said. “We did say something, ‘You need to see the doctor, you haven’t seen him for awhile.’ Dr. Bowditch being our doctor for many, many years. So Chad said, ‘I’m going to get in there and see him.’”
“Dallas is retiring in June so he probably would have had an appointment,” Joni said.
“We had talked about the situation and [Bowditch] said, ‘You really don’t know if you don’t have any complications or anything,’” Tim said.
“You kind of beat yourself up and Dallas said, ‘No, he would have needed an ultrasound or echocardiogram and you don’t do that unless there’s a reason,” Joni said.
“The community, it’s been overwhelming,” Tim said. “He’s been gone for [just over] three months, fortunately his legacy still goes on.”
In addition, money from the fundraisers are going to purchase Wilson Evolution basketballs — a dozen for Columbia Sixth Grade Academy and a dozen for Logansport Junior High School.
Money is also being raised to pay for league dues or gear for Logansport Youth Baseball players who can't afford them. Every kid from Logansport has the opportunity to play.
“We were excited, we finally got to write our first check for a couple of the kids over at the baseball park that couldn’t play,” Joni said. “We’re more than happy with our funds. We’ve done some of that and we’re hoping to do a lot more. Kids should never be able to not play.”
A benefit is being held Saturday night beginning at 8 p.m. at Chevi’s in Logansport. Bands Astoria Distilling Co., Fudd and Twisted Circus will perform. Cost is $20.
Lambert’s parents were also fans of the teams he coached.
“We enjoyed watching them. We enjoyed the kids,” Joni said. “We watched this group come up through the middle school. We’ve always enjoyed them, basketball and baseball both. So it’s really fun and it’s neat. We’re happy the groups that he got to coach are actually getting the use of this machine as well. They knew who Chad Lambert, Moose is, on the side of that machine. Kids 10 years from now might not really realize, so we’re glad this group is getting the use of it. It’s cool.”
Lambert’s older brother Eric was a star player on Logansport’s last state finalist baseball team in 2002.
The Berries just happened to win their first sectional championship since that season this year in miraculous fashion with two epic comeback victories.
“I think Chad would be proud of what the baseball team has accomplished,” Tim said.
“Eric’s really proud. He’s shocked. He can’t believe the community. We’ve been keeping him obviously informed and shoot him pictures what the kids are doing, what the community is doing, and he’s in awe of all of this.”
While he no longer coaches, Chad Lambert’s legacy of giving back to the community lives on.
“That’s what Chad would want. He’d be thrilled and was always wanting to help kids out,” Tim said.