‘Wonders’ premiere in Ironton

Published 10:59 am Thursday, October 16, 2008

It’s not every day that a Lawrence County team has a television documentary made about it.

But that is what has happened for the depression-era Waterloo Wonders basketball team.

On Monday, “The Eighth Wonder: The Waterloo Wonders” will get its world premiere at Ohio University Southern in Ironton. There will be a reception at the Riffe Center Rotunda and the premiere is at 6:30 p.m. in the Bowman Auditorium. Both are free and open to the public.

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The basic story is that during the Depression, the Waterloo Wonders came out of Lawrence County playing a new style of basketball. They won the 1934 and 1935 Class B State Championships, with an overall record of 97 wins and 3 losses.

Cheri Russo, the managing editor for WOUB news, produced and directed “The Eighth Wonder: The Waterloo Wonders.”

The inspiration came from a co-worker’s father who grew up in Ironton. She overheard the conversation about the team and their story and was fascinated.

“I asked if anyone had done a documentary about them and he said not that he knew of,” Russo said. “So I looked into it and got really excited about the story because I’m a big sports fan and it is a great sports story.”

Although none of the Wonders team members are still living, Russo found people who still remember seeing the team play.

“I did find Stewart Wiseman’s widow, she is the only widow who is still alive. And I talked to some of their kids and there are still some people who were 10 or 12 when they saw the Wonders play,” Russo said. She even found three living people who played against the Wonders during the championship games.

For Russo, the fascination for the Waterloo Wonders was their grit.

“These kids dug deep and they found a way to do it and they won two state championships in a fashion no one had ever seen before,” she said. “That was amazing that it came out of this area.”

She said another southern Ohio story that interests her is the Ironton Tanks, the semi-professional football team that defeated NFL powerhouses like the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants.

“I thought that would be a fabulous story as well,” she said. “Any awesome, motivating sports story is something that I am always interested in and the Tanks story sounds like a great story.”

“The Eighth Wonder: The Waterloo Wonders” will be shown on WOUB-TV in November.

For more information and a preview clip, go to woub.org.