PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Former Manual basketball player Creston Coleman says he’s reminded of his high school basketball playing days nearly every day.
“When you meet somebody outside of Peoria, outside of the state of Illinois and you tell them you’re from Peoria. The first response you get is Manual,” Coleman said.
And that’s one of the reasons Coleman is putting together a documentary on Manual High School basketball called ‘Orange and Black: Beneath the Numbers.’ The historic school on Peoria’s south end has had basketball teams for over a 100 years and has won five state titles.
“There was a lot of history. A lot of digging we had to do,” said Coleman, who played at Manual from 1995-99. “A lot of preliminary work and now we’re recording interviews.”
The month of July us filled with interviews. And Coleman isn’t just building this documentary around former players and coaches.
He’s talking to Manual faculty, administration, cheerleaders, PA announcers, fans, really the entire Manual family.
“It’s bigger than just us who put on jerseys,” said Coleman. “It was the ones in the front offices, those who tutored us, those you made sure we were academically eligible.”
Last weekend, Coleman did an entire afternoon full of interviews with faculty members and fans.
“The custodians, the cafeteria works, everybody that was a part of the school was a part of the team,” said 30-year faculty member Jim Bixby, who retired in 1999. “The parents, booster club… Everyone’s pulling on the same end of the rope.”
Manual was a national story when it won four consecutive Illinois High School Association state championships from 1994-97.
“I just starting following them at Manual and became a huge fan,” said Peorian Patty Croland after watching the 1995 team win state. “I got to know their mothers. It became a family to me.”
Coleman doesn’t know when the project will be complete but he’s hoping for a world premiere showing at Manual sometime in 2023.
“This is way bigger than just Manual. This is about Peoria,” said Coleman. “This is about the city, the community and us as residents.”