“You could be as good as anybody.”
Winning a state championship in high school can define a man’s life, if he lets it. The Bruce Springsteen song Glory Days is all about that. Republic’s Howard Arndt made sure it didn’t happen to him.
Arndt is still the all-time leading scorer for Republic basketball, with 2,225 points. He holds the record for rebounds in a game, with 31. He scored more points in a single season (959) and made more field goals in a single season (378) than anyone else in Republic history. He was a sophomore when the Tigers won their Class M state championship in 1963, but that was only the beginning.
From Republic, Arndt attended the University of Kansas, playing basketball and earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He received more than 100 letters from college coaches and could have attended just about anywhere, including Princeton, but he says he was too intimi- dated as an 18-year-old to make the leap out of the Midwest.
He landed a job at General Electric’s aerospace program and worked on the Apollo Project–yes, that Apollo Project–in its waning days. He worked on the project known as Skylab. And he eventually served as one of the project managers for the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. He worked in aerospace for 38 years, and now he’s a successful wildlife photographer.
A lot of what Arndt learned about success came from a grass field in Republic with a makeshift basketball goal at one end.
“Tony Logan had a basketball goal out at the field in his house. We played a lot out there. The advantage for me was those four guys [Logan, Don Carlson, Harold Harris, and Butch Blades] were like brothers to me. I was always playing with them, so given they were two years ahead, that was a challenging environment from a sports standpoint. I wasn’t playing with people my age.
“Tony was a very hard-driving individu- al. He pushed us all. He was always chal- lenging me. Being a younger kid, you’d want to goof off. He was always on my case about working harder and trying harder.”
The hard work against older players prepared Arndt for high school as soon as he got there. His high school coach, Leland Brown, remembers trying to ease him into varsity play as a freshman. That didn’t last long.
“I didn’t want to move him up too fast. I’d play him a half a game on B team and half a game in the varsity. By Christmastime, there wasn’t any way I could keep him from being a starter.”
At the end of Arndt’s freshman season, an upset loss to Branson sent the Tigers home disappointed. They vowed they wouldn’t let it happen the next season, and they didn’t. Republic swept through the year with only one loss–to Springfield Central. They avenged that loss later, when Arndt scored a then-career high 26 points. They went on to capture the state championship.
Arndt says the lessons he learned from his basketball days in Republic have stuck with him through life.
“I think we always recognized, if you worked hard, you could compete and be as good as anybody. It didn’t matter that you came from ‘Podunk USA.’”
For Arndt, that philosophy has helped him achieve success wherever he’s gone.
- All-State Basketball three seasons (First Team in 1964 and 1965)
- Played on the 1963 Class M state championship team
- Still holds Republic records for points in a season (959), points in a career (2,225), and rebounds in a season (601)
- Played college basketball at the University of Kansas