Charles Hallman came home in a bad mood Monday after boys' B-squad practice at Minneapolis South. The veteran coach saw a low-energy and mistake-filled effort from his Tigers, and he detected the reason.
"We had won three in a row," Hallman said. "We had big heads … thought we were hot stuff. I had to bring 'em down. Like most coaches, I've had to change my voice in recent years, from upset to matter-of-fact with some humor, but the players still know when I'm mad."
Hallman noted a message after practice from Cheryl Coward, an editor from Hoopfeed.com, a website based in California and dedicated to women's basketball.
"The message told me I would be getting a call at home after practice," Hallman said. "I've written some articles for Cheryl and I assumed she wanted to discuss another one."
The call from the U.S. Basketball Writers Association informed Hallman that he was in its five-person 2022 Hall of Fame class that will be honored at the men's and women's Final Fours at the start of April.
"I wasn't expecting to be part of that," Hallman said Friday. "I didn't know I was nominated. I think Cheryl had quite a bit to do with it. She sees me as someone who was doing his best to feature women's basketball players long before most reporters."
Hallman is originally from Detroit and went to Michigan State. It was there in the late '70s that he became aware of an attention vacuum for women athletes.
"I got to know some women athletes right away in orientation," he said. "I followed them and quickly realized they weren't getting much publicity.
"When I got into journalism, I was determined to make sure the women athletes — especially Black women — were written about, talked about.
"If given the choice, I'd still cover a women's game over a men's. Women are more accessible, more amenable; they have an openness that makes better stories."
Hallman arrived in the Twin Cities to write in publications for Control Data in 1981. Media-wise, he first did on-air news for KMOJ radio, and then wrote for Insight News. He joined the staff of the Minneapolis Spokesman and St. Paul Recorder in the mid-1990s, primarily writing sports.
And with a heavy emphasis on basketball — which he has been coaching in Minneapolis since starting with youngsters at Powderhorn Park over 30 years ago.
He taught grade school for 20 years in St. Paul, he always has had coaching duties, and despite that schedule, Hallman said:
"I have not missed an edition for the Spokesman-Recorder in over a quarter-century. Deaths in family, illness, snowstorms … I always was able to get to the office and produce my three columns per week."
There was a pause this week to celebrate what ranks as historic recognition.
"I'm told that I'll be the third Black basketball writer to make this Hall, after Bryan Burwell and William C. Rhoden, and the first from the Black press," Hallman said.
Sadly, the pause did not last long. As the controversy over the police shooting death of Amir Locke simmered, another horrendous moment struck Hallman's city of Minneapolis, and very close to home.
Deshaun Hill, a 15-year-old sophomore at North Community High School, was shot on Wednesday afternoon near a convenience store at Penn Avenue and Golden Valley Road. He was taken off life support Thursday.
He was a quarterback, a basketball player … by all the rushed postmortems, a terrific kid headed for exceptional things in athletics and in life.
"I was at South on Thursday and we heard that a North student had been shot," Hallman said. "Then, we heard it was a sophomore. And, during practice, we heard it was Deshaun.
"This is the City [Conference]. We all know each other. My sophomores just played against him two weeks ago. Our world is crazy right now."
Charles and his wife, Rev. Marchelle Hallman, live a few blocks from where the shooting of Hill took place. She is a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church that dates to the late 1700s.
The Rev. Hallman served as a pastor, and then became the chaplain at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Lino Lakes.
"It is not easy to shock my wife, but we are all so sad over this," Hallman said.
Then, he paused and said: "We have lost respect for life. Kids don't see themselves living that long. They carry an anger. If you accidentally step on a foot, some people won't accept 'sorry.' They might get a gun. You look the wrong way at someone. Might be the same thing.
"It's tragic, and I'm like everyone else. I don't have an answer."
Yet, the Hallmans' future is in Minneapolis, even as death seems to come so easy — and this week as stunningly tragic as can be a few blocks away with Deshaun Hill.
"This is our home," Hallman said. "I believe that things can change. I believe we can and will start treating each other better. We have to believe that."