Waterloo Wonders doc premieres at OUS

Published 11:38 am Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The games are long over and the team members have passed away but the legend of the Waterloo Wonders is still going strong.

On Monday, Ohio University Southern was the site of the premiere of “The Eighth Wonder: The Waterloo Wonders,” a documentary about how a small Lawrence County school’s basketball team lived up to their names in the midst of the Great Depression.

The Waterloo Wonders brought a new style of basketball to the court and not only beat other high school teams but a couple of college ones as well. They won the 1934 and 1935 Class B State Championships, with an overall record of 97 wins and 3 losses.

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Cheri Russo, the managing editor for the WOUB news department, produced and directed “The Eighth Wonder: The Waterloo Wonders.” She was a bit nervous by the event because this is the first premiere she’s ever had.

“I’m doing OK, just nervous because I want everyone to like it,” she said. “This is a special story and I want to do it justice.”

Nick Parsons was the videographer and editor for the documentary. He said he had never heard of the Waterloo Wonders but thought it sounded like a cool story.

“We traveled all over Ohio to make this,” he said. “I’m nervous. There is a ton of people and it is just cool to realize how big of a story this really is.”

Over 250 people came out for the documentary and at times it seemed like a class reunion with people running into people they hadn’t seen in years.

Richard Newman came out with his Waterloo Wonders start up jacket.

“It’s a bit snug but I can still wear it,” he said. Newman was on the Wonders basketball team in from 1957-1960. There were only seven of the starter jackets and Newman isn’t sure if any others have survived.

He wasn’t born when the team won the state championships but his uncle, Orlyn Roberts, and cousin, Wyman Roberts, played on the team. “I think this is great,” he said of the documentary. “I just wanted to make sure I was here for it.”

Dr. Bill Willan, OUS’s interim director, who came from Indiana and is quite familiar with the Milan High School who became the 1954 Indiana state champions and whose story was the basis for the movie “Hoosiers” said he was excited to learn more about the wonders.

“I’ve been up Route 141 and seen Waterloo so I’m really amazed to have such a team come from such a small place,” he said. “And we are really happy to have the premiere here and to share the history of the area with others. We are happy WOUB picked this story.”

Bob Wiseman, the son of the Waterloo Wonder’s Steward Wiseman, said he and his whole family were excited that a documentary had been made.

“We think this would be a great feature film, something like ‘Hoosiers,’” he said.

He said his father didn’t talk much about being on the team.

“To him, he had gone with the rest of his life,” he said. “He was just really modest about it.”

Bob didn’t really know about the team until he read the book “Waterloo Wonders” when he went to college.

He said this documentary would help keep the legend of the Waterloo Wonders going.

“The biggest shame was that there was never any footage of the games, not even championship games,” he said.

“The Eighth Wonder: The Waterloo Wonders” will air on Thursday, Nov. 6 at 9 p.m. and Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. on WOUB-TV.

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