It was 50 years ago today that the Pueblo Junior College men's basketball team won the city's one and only collegiate national team championship.
On March 18, 1961, the Indians, led by head coach Harry "The Chief" Simmons, beat Tyler (Texas) Junior College, 79-66, in Hutchinson, Kan.
"Harry Simmons was the coach and I think he was probably 90 percent responsible for putting it together," said Norm Colglazier, 70, a Pueblo native who was a starting guard on that championship team and later went on to coach boys basketball at East High School.
"We had a group of guys who really got along together, played well together. There were no egos involved. It was just going out and playing and we had a lot of fun doing it. That sounds kind of trite, but that's exactly how it was," Colglazier said of the championship squad.
Years after PJC's national championship, the school moved to Belmont where it became Southern Colorado State College, then the University of Southern Colorado and now Colorado State University-Pueblo.
In PJC's stead stands Pueblo Community College, which doesn't have an athletic program, but it still holds on to its sports history.
"The heritage at PCC is rich . . . long and rich. Whenever we can go back in history and look where we've been and celebrate it, it's an important day," PCC President Patty Erjavec said of the momentous moment.
No activities are planned today for the 50th anniversary of that treasured day in Pueblo sports history, but an official at CSU-Pueblo said plans are under way to recognize the 1960-61 national championship team in the fall.
The team already is enshrined in CSU-Pueblo's hall of fame and Simmons is a member of the Greater Pueblo Sports Association's Hall of Fame and the Pueblo Hall of Fame.
Tim Simmons, one of coach Simmons' four children, said that national championship is "a lasting memory for a lot of folks."
"It was a big deal. The beauty of this team was that seven of the 10 kids were Coloradans. It was a very special team," said Simmons, who was 14 years old at the time. "Any time you win a championship it's very special, at any level."
Harry Simmons, who died in 1990, coached for 35 years and posted an overall record of 603-326. He coached 11 teams to national tournament appearances.
Members of that championship team were Colglazier, Sam Smith, Bob Warlick, who went on to play in the NBA, Anthony Hegler, Ron DeLeon, Jerry Hummitszch, Isaac Pope, Jack Milam, Lennie Roybal and Charles Williams. The assistant coach was Bill Kennedy.