Book pays tribute to West High’s 1955 basketball title

From press release

Field generals who helped forge a Rockford basketball team into a sports legend were together again in Rockford last week to celebrate Rockford West High School’s 70th anniversary and the 55th reunion of their West High School class that cheered the Warriors on to their first of two consecutive state championships.

Starting guards Rex Parker and Rod Coffman played key roles in the team’s 28 wins against a single loss that year and participated in a championship game that included what acclaimed Chicago sportswriter Bill Gleason described as his “most memorable” moment in sports. It was a moment that Gleason said stood apart from and above anything in any of the World Series and Super Bowl or NFL, Major League Baseball, and National Hockey League games he covered for Chicago newspapers and for SportsChannel America’s nationally syndicated TV program The Sportswriters.

Parker, a Rockford resident, and Coffman, who arrived in Rockford last week from his home in Monte Sereno, Calif., are energetic and articulate spokesmen for a team that was featured in news around the nation and created excitement throughout Illinois. They were playmakers and team leaders who rallied the Warriors for spectacular come-from-behind victories that earned them the title “the comeback kids”—one of which is Gleason’s most memorable moment in sports.

Parker, Coffman and other Warriors are central characters in a new book by Rockford resident John Gile chronicling the era and the championships. Warriors Forever (ISBN: 978-0910941-37-2), in the works for two years, tells the story of a community coming together, the story of an event that made the river through Rockford disappear and joined every section of the city and every socioeconomic constituency in community solidarity no person who experienced it will ever forget.

Warriors Forever is told in the words of those who lived through it and preserves for posterity the times, the trials and the triumphs of courageous coaches, courageous players and the people who cheered them on to victory.

The book will be available in trade paperback with photos for $14.95. Visit for more information.

From the Aug. 25-31, 2010

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