Man, 78, becomes suburban high school basketball team’s most devoted fan

CHICAGO — For 61 years, a wiry white-haired man has reigned king of Maine West High School’s center court.

He’s not the coach. In fact, he never played on the team.

“What can I tell you? I’m on a mission for the team,” smiles Nick Ladas.

At 78, Ladas has the spirit of a student a quarter of his age.

“He gets pretty excited. Sometimes we have to keep him under wraps as we go to play rivals because he gets so fired up for games,” says head coach Tom Prokopij.

They call him Maine West’s CMO… Chief Morale Officer. He attends nearly every practice and all the games, high fiving and calling out players by name.

Ladas has been walking the halls of Maine West High School since he started there as a freshman in 1959.

He says he has no plans to leave just yet.

“I’m holding out for the boys to win a state title!” Says Ladas. “It’ll come and I want to be here when it happens.”