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Robert Hight
The Centralia Sports Hall of Fame
2010 Individual Award Winner


 

  Robert Hight was born without a right arm from the elbow down, and lost vision in his left eye before age one.  But he didn't let this deter him from being involved in sports and becoming one of the better all-around athletes in Centralia. 

  At the age of eight he was the bat boy for the Centralia Cubs in the Mississippi Ohio Valley League.  This is where he met Fred Pearson, one of the major influences in his life.  At age 10 he played for Straith's Jewelers and hit two homeruns in a game against the Salem All-Stars.  Hight says he was more proud of the t-shirt that Mr. Straith had given the players for their uniform than he was of the homeruns.  He wore that t-shirt until it had more holes than cloth.

  After Little League (age 11-12) and Pony League Hight entered Centralia High School as a Freshman during the 1954-1955 football season.  There was some controversy about whether he should be allowed to play football.  His father, Cliff Hight, who had played with Coach Jimmie Evers on the 1926 CHS football team, convinced Evers to give his son a chance.  Evers went to the school board and got them to agree to let Hight play.  He says this was a major turning point in his life, and was so grateful to Coach Evers for what he did for him.

  He didn't play on the starting freshman team, and felt the freshman coach thought he would eventually quit along with some of the other players.  This just made him more determined.  

  His sophomore season he broke his collar bone in practice and missed the last half of the season.  His junior season (1956) saw him begin his kicking career.  He was only the extra-point kicker until the game with Marion.  When another player was injured Coach Evers put him in on the kickoff team to begin the second half.  Hight made the tackle on Marion's star halfback so hard it put the Marion player out of the game.  Hight never sat out another kickoff  on any team he played on after that.  

  His senior season (1957) he handled all the kicking duties.  He is second on the CHS career extra-point list with 47, and third and fifth on the season extra-point list with 26 and 21.  The 1956 team was South Seven Conference Champions, finishing the season undefeated at 8-0-1 .  The 1957 team, was also undefeated conference champions, finishing the season 7-1-1.

  Hight participated on CHS track teams for four years and became an accomplished discus thrower.

  In 1959 and 1960 he lettered in baseball at Centralia Junior College (now KC) under Coach Chuck Mundell.  Hight says Coach Mundell was a big influence in his decision to become an educator.

  After going through the same problems he had at the beginning of high school, he was cleared to play football at SIU.  He lettered four years and at one time held SIU records for most field goals, most extra-points, and longest field goal.  Hight was an All-Conference kicker in 1961 and held a NCAA record for fewest return yards per kickoff for a season (3.2).  He is a member of the SIU all-decade team for the 1960's.

  In the summer of 1963 he played centerfield for the Beardstown Merchants and the Quincy All-Stars in the Northern Illinois Industrial Fast-Pitch Softball League.

  Hight signed with the Buffalo Bills of the AFL in 1965, and spent the season on the taxi squad.  He was featured in a published history of the Bills written by Jeffrey Miller.  In 1966 he won a national field-goal kicking contest sponsored by the Dallas Cowboys, and was then signed by the Cowboys.  After kicking a 55-yard field goal in a rookie game against the L.A. Rams he was sidelined by a leg injury.  He was traded to Atlanta and later released.

  After his release he began his coaching career, first at Effingham, IL High School (1966-67 through 1969-70 as an assistant (line coach) under former Centralian Jack Klosterman.  Hight was also freshman basketball coach and head golf coach, where he won conference championships twice and a district championship his last season.

  Hight moved to Crystal Lake, IL (Central) High School as the offensive coordinator for the 1970 football season, and stayed until taking the head football coaching position at the new Crystal Lake South High School for the 1978 season.  He garnered two Fox Valley Conference titles and had playoff qualifying teams in 6 of 9 seasons, reaching the semi-finals in 1986, his final season of coaching at CLS.  He was then named head coach of the East team for the Illinois Shrine All-Str game in Bloomington.  Hight was named Northern Illlinois Coach Of The Year by the Elgin Daily Courier News in 1982, 1984, and 1986.  

  While still teaching at CLS he spent 2 years as offensive coordinator at Aurora University, and was then named CLS athletic director before retiring in 1994.

  For 3 seasons (1971-1973), while coaching and teaching at Crystal Lake, he kicked for the Rockford Rams in the Central States Football League.  He kicked the winning field goal in the league championship game in 1972.  He held the league record for the longest field goal (55 yards) and most field goals in a season.  

  In 1973 Hight was to be a game-time replacement for the injured George Blanda of the Oakland Raiders.  At the last minute Blanda was able to play, and that was the last chance Hight had to play in the NFL.

  In 2008 Hight had his left knee and hip replaced, giving him new life on the golf course after 25 years.  He is a volunteer with the National Amputee Golf Association, helping amputees find golf as a recreational pursuit.  Hight states, "We have our own little golf tour".

  Hight is also the 2010 Arm Amputee Champion of the Eastern Amputee Golf Association Regional Championships held in Pennsylvania.  In September, 2009, he tied for 10th in the North American One-Arm Golf Association World Championships held in West Palm Beach, Florida.

In 2012 Hight was recognized as a distinguished alumnus by the Centralia High School Alumni Association.


 

 

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