"Baseball, hot dogs, apple pies and Chevrolets" is the saying that brings to mind the wonderful family of this week's article. I met this awesome group several years ago during summer baseball with The Pony Express team. Our wonderful coach (head of this week's family) and some amazing young players were runner-ups in a large tourney in St. Lois and ended-with a 39-18 record. Since then we've had many baseball games where I've talked or sat with some of the Bacon group. Sometimes grandson Dane was on Maverick Bacon's team, other times against him and once-in-awhile one was just watching the other. The best thing about the whole Bacon clan is that they are always supportive no matter what side they're on.

Todd Bacon grew-up on a cattle farm in Warren County, then on to Benton County where he played basketball and baseball at Benton Central plus was active showing cattle in 4-H. It was in 5th grade when Carmen Johnson first eyed Todd while he was playing ball and thought he was pretty cute. In 7th grade, they began dating and by the next year, Todd told her he was going to marry her. There has never been a divorce in Todd's family because commitment is taken seriously. Ten years later, in Pine Village, the two love birds indeed were married.

Of course, a few things happened along the way. High school graduations, then on to college. Todd went to Earlham where he played basketball and baseball, majoring in Movement Studies. Meanwhile, Carmen was at Ball State, majoring in Graphic Design and riding on the Equestrian team. They remarked about the difficult communication as Todd had to stand in line in the dorm hallway to use the phone for even a few minutes. Luckily, his parents were generous about picking her up to go see him. They saw only one movie in the ten years of dating because family and sports are top priority. Upon Todd's graduation (while Carmen finished-up her degree at BU) he went to Goshen College as assistant men's basketball and baseball coach along with grounds keeping. He made $7800 that year and lived in a motel room (later a one-room apartment. Todd reminisced, "I ate a lot of baloney!"

Two weeks after Carmen's graduation they were married, and began their life together in a home in Goshen. She worked as a graphic designer for a Mennonite Insurance Company. Todd spent six years as head basketball coach, three for baseball and Athletic Director.

In 2000, Todd went to Marian as admission counselor, head tennis (men and women's) and women's basketball coach for 10 years. He's pretty excited about just finishing-up his first baseball season. Carmen noted that Todd went into Marian with working knowledge of the financial aid and admissions process and made a smooth transition. As a coach anyone really must know those two like the back of their hand. His strategic thinking tops it all off.

Todd and Carmen definitely didn't want their kids growing-up in Indianapolis so the search began for a place half way between everywhere (her family, his and work). They spent a few months in Benton County while she drove around four to five hours a day looking. A century-old farm house on an acre caught their eyes and hearts and lead them to Montgomery County. Definitely the right spot out between Wingate and Waynetown to raise a family.

Daughter Dakota was active in basketball at North Montgomery and is now a junior at Marian, majoring in Sports Performance. Her boyfriend, Dylan Sterrett, coached the local 16 Under Thunder Team this year and is a senior (pitcher) at Div 1 Chicago State. Maverick Bacon is a senior at North this year where he plays baseball (Player of the Year - go Mav) works for a local farmer and has made a verbal commitment to attend BSU for baseball. Next is Isaac, 8th grader at Northridge, cross country and track being his sports. A kid after my heart, he is also a history buff. The youngest Bacon is Teegan who just had her 10th birthday and is a 4th grader at Pleasant Hill where she's a power house in soccer, basketball and baseball. She and I have something in common, too - we both love Castle!

Vacations usually center around sports. "Travel ball vacations," so to speak and in the spring of 2011, when Todd took the first-ever Marian girls basketball team to the Sweet 16, the family went with him to Sioux City, Iowa. On the way back from East Cobb, GA where Todd coached (Mav played) the 15 U Indians baseball team to runner-ups out of 96 teams, the family enjoyed Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga. By the way, that team had a 55-4 record. His 12 U Indiana Trojans team even won Nationals. Amazing!

I asked Todd about athletes of today and he reflected what I've tended to see in a classroom. "Life is tougher on kids now and it's hard to stay focused - so many things pulling them in 10 directions." He strongly suggested to put down the games and phones. No phones on his road trips and his athletes talk to each other. He sees fewer and fewer athletes who are mentally and physically tough.

Carmen is an awesome mom. She stayed home, took care of the house, kids played chauffeur and did some free-lance graphics. She now loves working in the Pleasant Hill Cafeteria. As she says, "If one of ours isn't playing, then we're going to games." Definitely, their American dream includes "baseball, hot dogs, apple pies and Chevrolets." I thank Todd and Carmen for being this week's ATC subjects. You rock!



Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, a monthly magazine published by Sagamore News Media and inserted in The Paper. Her column, "Around the County" is published Thursdays.