The Story of Carmen
Vans Vault x Sole Classics Era 46 "Carmen"
Long before ESPN made recruiting a national spectacle, before the internet, before high school football players journeyed across the country to play ball; When the only star reference was made in regards to the constellation, there sparked an unforeseen element in Ohio. A football recruit named Jack Henderson, better known as “Ice” for his signature running style and seemingly always icy white cleats, would go on to break the High School rushing record for the state of Ohio as a sophomore in 1961. By his senior year Jack had gained over 1,700 yards by mid-season as he carried his high school to what looked like would be their third straight state championship. A year that should have been filled with accomplishment would soon take a fairytale twist on the evening of October 6, 1963.
Down 3 against their cross-town rivals, Jack Henderson had led a 93-yard drive with 89 rushing yards in the winding minutes. With four seconds on the game clock and no time outs, Ice would take a toss sweep to the left and was met by two defenders in one of the most violent collisions ever seen during that time. The collision left Jack unconsciously spinning in the air for what seemed like minutes before eventually landing just inches over the goal line for the crowning touchdown. Surely one of the greatest high school plays ever witnessed by arguably the greatest high school player to never be recognized. The collision would leave Jack “Ice” Henderson blind out of both eyes.
Unable to see, Jack would spend the next week in a hospital bed as his team would go on to lose in staggering fashion; 0-86, and with only a few weeks before the playoffs it appeared as if that third straight championship would elude a team that at one point seemed invincible.
On October 17, as Jack was stumbling around his hospital room he was startled by a stranger’s voice. A young lady who was also a patient in the same hospital had seen how depressed the once great back was without football and decided to sneak in to visit. After a few moments, the voice would break the silence again simply by uttering, “Don’t quit”. The simple phrase seemed to say so much more. As Jack heard the woman reach for the door he asked her name, she replied “Carmen Young…”. “Where can I find you?” Jack stammered as he heard her gather her things. Her response was simply “Cleveland”, she giggled as she hurried out of the room.
Three days later with his team down 17 at the half and no answers, Jack entered the locker room with a smile on his face. Three touchdowns and 326 yards later Jack “Ice” Henderson would give his team a slight lead as time would tick away in the fourth quarter. After a defensive goal line stand, Jack demonstrated why he was indeed a special talent when he took a simple dive play up the middle. The play was called just to give his team a little breathing room. One missed tackle, two missed tackles, a spin move to the left and 99 yards later Jack “Ice” Henderson would seal the deal with the longest run from scrimmage in Ohio high school history.. only Jack would never stop running. Jack ran right out of the stadium in Hamilton County up the road leading to his high school’s stadium.
Jack ran north through Franklin County, and was sighted running through Delaware County before eventually never being seen or heard from again. In November of 1963 a pair of golden brown cleats were found on the bank of Lake Eerie in Cleveland, Ohio. Some say that the cleats are those of Ice Henderson. That the golden brown tint came from the mileage put on the cleats on his journey north through an entire state. But because no one heard from or seen Jack again these soon turned into urban myths.
In 1966 the Ohio highway committee that would be responsible for creating interstate route 71, would change their plans for, then, state route 1. Originally planned to stretch to Connecticut - the state highway would extend from its connecting point in Kentucky and extend to join Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland to commemorate the mythic journey by an even more mythical player. In 1968 Jack Henderson and his legend was slain. His high school coach was fired and all of the wins of his tenure were vacated and removed from state history books after he was found to have recruited over-aged players throughout his career as head coach. I-71 would eventually go on to replace state route 3 and in 1996 the Ohio Bureau of Motor vehicles would go on to unofficially design the state license plate after the story of the golden-white cleats of the one-time most dominant players in Ohio history. In 2013, as a part of the 10th year anniversary of the Vans Vault brand we at Sole Classics and Kingsrowe are proud to bring you Carmen, the shoe that connects Ohio.
The name “Carmen” comes from the motivation that tells us not to give up. The football leather on the heel mustache of the shoe is placed for obvious reasons. The golden fade represents Jack Henderson’s journey. The navy laces were taken to mimic the 1996 license plate and also the navy uniforms from the 1963 season, while the orange Vans tag represents a state registration sticker. The red sole represents the state slogan; “The Heart of it All”, also taken from the 1996 license plate. The grey sole mixes combines to make up the University that brings us so much joy. The green laces represent the “Off The Wall” persona that makes Sole Classics who we are. These alternate laces represent our shop’s artwork as well as our personality. Thank you Vans for the opportunity and thank you Ohio for the inspiration. Columbus, we on.