Book recounts early days of Niles High School athletics

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- What in 2001 began as a search for pictures for a high school class reunion has in two years turned into a 250-page book called "Niles High School Sports Pictorial."
The book, that covers Niles High School sports from 1914 to 1955, contains photographs, Tattler yearbook statistics, newspaper articles and personal comments from 27 former high school athletes.
Donna Ochenryder, author of the book, and also a band member while a student at Niles High School, said the purpose of the book is to help mentor young athletes on the important role school and sports plays in the development of young people.
But if it hadn't been for Roger Hargreaves, a counselor at Niles High School, the book would probably never have been published.
Ochenryder said she had exhausted everyone's scrap books for pictures related to Niles High School for the 1951 50th class reunion, of which she was a committee member, when she was referred to Hargreaves.
Having grown up in Niles, she said Hargreaves recognized the historical and emotional importance the photos would have for many former high school students, and he was able to save them from being destroyed before the buildings were torn down in 1962.
Ochenryder then borrowed the pictures from Hargreaves and in 2001 spent several months scanning hundreds of photos, some of which were displayed at the 1951 class reunion, onto a computer.
She said many of the former high school students were excited about seeing the pictures from their school days at the reunion, and many of them requested copies of photos for themselves.
That's when it was decided to publish a "Niles High School Pictorial," she said.
The book project, however, became even more comprehensive when Ochenryder decided to track down and gather comments and current photos of as many as possible high school athletes who graduated between 1914 and 1955.
The 27 graduates who responded, Ochenryder said, gave comments, provided a current picture of themselves and told of fond memories they have from their high school experience.
Although it is nice for the graduates themselves to look through the book and remember their high school days, it also gives the younger generations a chance to see how high school sports was back then, she said.
The books are currently on display at Majerek's book store in downtown Niles. They are selling for $50.
Donna Ochenryder will be at the Niles Eagles Club at 7.30 p.m. tonight to talk about her book.
The proceeds of the sales will go to a Niles High School Band reunion which is being planned.

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