Cross serves as quiet leader of Pioneer men’s basketball

Although he is the last one introduced in the Pioneers’ starting lineup on game nights, junior Chas Cross has had a major impact on the Pioneers’ success in recent years.

He made WIAC all-conference his freshman year and then was appointed team captain his sophomore year, an honor he also received this season.  The 6-foot-8 forward/center is leading the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with 12.1 points per game this season.

The agriculture business major’s said his goal is to set a good example for his entire team, especially the incoming freshman.

“When Chas speaks, everyone listens,” Pioneers head coach Jeff Gard said. “He’s a guy that typically leads by example, so when he raises his voice, you listen.”

Cross’ team-oriented goals and mind set stem from his upbringing in Winnebego, Ill., a small town about an hour and a half away from Platteville.

Cross started playing basketball at age 7, which instilled the valuable life lessons of communication and teamwork in him.  Though Cross played many other team-oriented sports, basketball always struck home for him.

“I was always taller than everybody else,” Cross said.

“It was Chas’ freshman year when we all decided that we were going to be Chas Cross’ biggest fans,” said Brian Johnson, founder and president of “Chas Cross Biggest Fan Club,” a Facebook group that posts about Cross’ performances.

At the beginning of March 2010, Cross’ freshman year, he had some minor setbacks like a bone fracture and bone chip in his ankle that caused him to be out for part of the season.  Regardless, Cross’ fans stayed loyal to him throughout the injury.

“Chas may be number 53 on the court, but he is number one in our hearts,” said junior civil engineering major Bryce Corrigan, another member of the Chas Cross Biggest Fan Club.

Although he has had many personal achievements, Cross does not dwell on those accomplishments for long.  Instead, he talks about the team’s accomplishments as well as the captains’ goals for their teammates.

“He is the most humble, simple man you will ever meet,” said junior and co-captain Eric Gerber.

Gerber and Cross were roommates during their freshman year.

“He’s a farm kid,” Gard said. “They’re not the type to give the ra-ra speeches, they just go out and play.”

Cross credits all of his basketball talent to his parents’ efforts throughout the years.

“Dad would always shoot hoops with me, and Mom would travel to different leagues with me every week,” Cross said.  “They have not missed a game.”

Even after all his success on the court, Cross does not see himself pursuing professional ball after college, choosing simpler plans for his future.

“After I’m done with college, I think I’ll probably just hang it all up and go back to the family farm, maybe play in some old man leagues,” Cross said.