Over the past three years, many an old-timer has been quick to point out the similarities in coaching style between hall-of-fame head coach Jack Aldridge and Greg Gober.
It has also become quite evident to the younger generation that the love and admiration Gober has toward his former coach and Waxahachie legend extends well beyond the basketball court.
That appreciation, though the word seems too shallow for just how deep the respect goes, will be on display once again Friday night inside Mike Turner Gymnasium when the Runnin' Indians host an Alzheimer's Research and Awareness Night.
During the game against Mansfield High at 7:30 p.m. Friday, the Runnin' Indians coaching staff will don purple polos and players will sport purple socks to bring awareness to the disease that currently has no cure.
It is the same disease that took the life of Aldridge, a 2013 Waxahachie ISD Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, in 2015. He was 76 years young.
According to statistics provided by the Alzheimer's Research Foundation, one out of three people over the age of 65 will die as a result of Alzheimer's, while one in nine of that same age currently suffers from its effects.
"The disease can start up to 20 years before diagnosis — as early as the age of 30 for those at high risk — yet we have no idea what causes it in 99 percent of all cases," the foundation notes on its website. "There is no known cure or reliable prevention. "
[...] By raising funds and giving solely to institutions dedicating their research efforts to finding a cure, you can help Alzheimer’s charities, your loved ones, and their caregivers battle this insidious disease that strips dignity from those afflicted, and devastates everyone around them," the Alzheimer's Research Foundation website adds.
Aldridge won more than 800 basketball games as a head basketball coach.
While leading the Runnin' Indians from 1974-83, Aldridge-led teams appeared in four state championship and eventually won a state title in 1983. He finished with an overall record of 230-83 in Waxahachie.
Gober played for Aldridge from 1977-80.
“Jack Aldridge was a very inspiring coach. He was a part of my success on the court and my success as a coach today," Gober previously told the Daily Light following the first-ever Hachie Hoopin' It Up tournament and pancake breakfast in 2016 aimed at bringing awareness to the effects of Alzheimer’s and to raise funds to one day find a cure. “I made a commitment when Aldridge passed away from the effects of Alzheimer’s to start a fundraiser to donate to help cure Alzheimer’s."
Gober previously detailed his journey back to the Runnin' Indians program during a Waxahachie Lions Club meeting this past July.
It was then that Gober told the room full of longtime friends, acquaintances and supporters that, had it not of been for Aldridge, "I know for a fact that I would have been in prison."
It was also Aldridge who continually encouraged Gober to enter the coaching field, even after he graduated from Stephen F. Austin University with a bachelor's degree in marketing and despite current coaches warning against the transition. Gober recalled those coaches citing poor pay and long hours as the reasons for avoiding the profession.
Yet, a few years and one crummy job in sales for telephone company later, there Gober stood at the career crossroads that Aldridge had known his former player would be at all along.
Gober began his coaching career as a junior high basketball coach in Kingwood. He then moved to Abilene and, eventually, Colleyville Heritage, where his wife has taught in the same room for the last 20 years.
A couple years traveling the AAU circuit and two more at a Dallas private school and he "just happened" to land the gig leading his hometown Runnin' Indians.
Some could speculate, and rightfully so, that Gober had completed the journey Aldridge knew he'd take since 1977.
It's also reasonably safe to assume that the elder head coach is quite proud of his former basketball program.
Since Gober took over the Runnin' Indians ahead of the 2017 season, Waxahachie has won back-to-back district championships (both without a loss), climbed into the national top-10, held down the No. 1 spot in 5A and a top-10 ranking in 6A, and is once again revered as one premier high school basketball programs in Texas.
The Runnin' Indians are also in the hunt for a third consecutive playoff berth in their first-ever year in Class 6A.
“The impressions he made on my life were probably the same that he made on all the people that he coached,” Gober said during a 2015 interview with the Daily Light. “He allowed people to have a positive perspective of themselves and brought out the best of us. He allowed us to shoot for our goals. He was really an encouraging person, made you believe in yourself sometimes more than you believed in your own self.”
Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. Friday inside the Mike Turner Gymnasium on the campus of Waxahachie High School. Fans are encouraged to wear purple in support of the fight for a cure.
Portions of this article were first reported in previous Daily Light reports.