Stories from Coach Bradley

 
 
COACH BRADLEY's Stories Thru The Years.             

Listed by date from earliest to the most recent.
6-3  129 Plaque   
6-4. Billy Dean   
6-5  Miss Ellington 
6-6. Tim Christian. 
6-7 George Hearn  
6-8. Todd Whitsitt. 
6-9 Billy Crowell.
6-10 Jan- Ronald.   
6-11 Our Travels   
6-12. 1966 Seniors.
6-13. '80 GWA Girls.
6-14 Early NCHS
6-15. My Mom & Dad.
6-16 TCS-Loganville.
6-17. Loganville 1.
6-18 Loganville 2
6-19. Loganville 3.
6-20  Granny Tucker.
6-21 Kyle Chandler.
6-22 Seaborn Hardman
6-23. Santa Claus.
6-24. '79 FB Champs 1 
6-25 GWA '79 FB.2 
6-26 NCHS Early Years
6-27. NCHS '59 Practices 1.
6-28  NCHS 2.
6-29. NCHS 3 
6-30. Story of Bill's special Lu
7-1. X Rated. 
7-2 Early HS Days.
7-3. '62-64 NCHS Baseball
7-5. NCHS '61
7-6. NCHS '63. 7-7 '64 state Champs 1 
7-8 '64 Season 2.
7-9 '65 NCHS
7-10. Unique Fans.
7-11. 1000th Win.
7-12 Keith Henderson. 
7-13. NCHS Midget Teams
7-14. Gib Gray.
7-15  Bob's Player.
7-16. Norm Van Brocklin.
7-17. Piedmont Academy
7-18. NCHS '66.
7-19 Home Court Record.
7-20 Eagles.
7-21 The Harrises.
7-22. Principal Sharp 
7-23. Early Lessons.
7-24. Death Valley.
7-25. NCHS Good Times
7-26. NCHS '67.
7-27 129 Streak Ends.
7-28 129 record Comments.
7-29. Eagle Travis
7-30. Eagle Jim.
7-31 FFA-FHA Camp.
8-1  Coach Lingner's Story.
8-2. Coach Milligan
8-3 Our Travels 1
8-4 Our Travels 2.
8-5  GWA '84.
8-6 GWA '85.
8-7. GWA 86
8-8 Betty Jaynes 1.
8-9 Betty Jaynes 2.
8-10. Betty Jaynes 3.
8-11 NCHS '69
8-12. NCHS '70 1.
8-13. NCHS 2. 
8-14. NCHS 3.
8-15. NCHS 4 
8-16 Bubba Hill
8-17. MVP Jan.
8-18  Eagle Tim. 
8-19. NCHS '71 1.
8-20. NCHS '71 2.
8-21 NCHS 71 3
8-22. NCHS '71 4  
8-23  Trinity.
8-24. Darrell Huckaby 1.
8-25. Darrell Huckaby 2
8-26. NCHS '72 1.
8-27 NCHS '72 2.
8-28. NCHS '72 3.
8-29. NCHS '72 4
8-30 NCHS '72 5
8-31. NCHS '71 6.
9-1 NCHS '73.
9-2. NCHS 75.
9-3.Tommy Hailey.
9-4. NCHS Return 1
9-5. NCHS '03 2.
9-6. Trent Brown 3.
9-7 NCHS '05 4
9-8. NCHS 5.
9-9. Career Memories
9-10. Looking Back at 50 Years.
9-11. Ronald-Jan Marriage.
2-7-15. Larry Morris.
2-22. GSHOF Coaches & Wives.
3-1. KY Story
3-6. Billy Shaw.
4-4. Coach Rupp.
4-5. The Roberts

4/5/15

Last night the Kentucky Wildcats failed to reach the pinnacle of success that they had planned. It was a bitter pill as they were a heavy favorite to win it all. I know how hard it is to finish the year undefeated, as I have had several teams fail, that I knew were the best team in the State Final Four Teams. It is hard to believe that the last time UK had an undefeated season I played against the Cats as a freshman. I still remember that the trip to Lexington was my first plane ride. Kentucky went 25-0, but was unable to play in the NCAA tournament as Red Shirts were not eligible. Watching the game my mind wandered to a former Wildcat who he and his wife Suzanne provided my teams with 3 outstanding players, Roy Jr., Marshall, and Anne Knox Roberts. It was Roy Sr, that played on a National Championship team called the Fiddling Five. I had followed Roy's career as he starred at Northside High. We were all proud when Adolph Rupp thought enough of this Georgia player to give him a scholarship. The Roberts family provided us with a lot of memories and we are thankful for their contributions to our career & our fond memories.
As we think of the Roberts contributing 3 players who played on teams I coached, it brings to mind other families such as Rutledge, Capes, Christian, Holder, and our own (Brad, Bob & Bill) who also had 3 players who played on our teams.

4/4/15

Today as we are preparing to watch the great Kentucky basketball team in their quest to be called the best mens college basketball team in history it is also exciting for me as it brings back many memories. I remember the day I visited and had my picture taken with the Baron of the Blue Grass,Coach Adolph Rupp. I couldn't have imagined that one Day together our coaching records combined would total 2,248 wins.Coach Rupp had 876 wins and in my 50 year coaching career our varsity high school teams had 1,372 victories. Many fans know that when our National record winning streak of 129 straight home court victories ended, it was the same total that the Kentucky Wildcats had when they lost at home to a surprising Georgia Tech team coached by Whack Hyder. Today I get to do something that honors many high schoolers and contributors in all areas, not just in athletics.And I am well aware of the many players and others that have made this moment possible. As I am in the winter Days of my life today I will have the first and probably the last opportunity to see my picture hanging in the National high school Hall Of Fame here in Indianapolis. To say that I am excited about the Day would be grossly understated.

3/6/15

Being with Ted Turner brought back many memories of one of the all-time great basketball players that I coached--Billy Shaw. His family was a basketball loving unit, as sisters Nadia & Kay, his brother, Phil, all played for the Newton Rams. Out of respect, one of our sons, Bill, was named for Billy & Billy Dean Rutledge. In four years on the varsity basketball team, Billy never missed a practice, & was usually the last player to leave the gym. On numerous occasions he would tell me that he was going to make me proud of him. Billy won more games with a last-second shot than any player I ever coached in my 50- year career. Reminiscing with Ted Turner reminded me that after graduating from college, Billy married his high school sweetheart, Sherry Jefferies who played on the NCHS girls team. It wasn't long before Billy had a job working in my old hometown at the Scottdale Mills. One day, he received a phone call, and the person calling said (in a booming voice) "This is Ted Turner, and I want you to come and head up my personnel department for me." Billy knew that Stan Edwards, or one of his other old friends, was "pulling his leg". Billy replied, "You're crazy! Who is this?" It WAS Ted Turner, and Billy spent the rest of his working career with Ted Turner as Senior Vice-President. And yes, Billy Shaw---you have always made me proud!

3/1/15

The number one ranked Kentucky Wildcats are coming to Athens Tuesday night. They come in with a 29-0 record, and the game is a sell-out. The Big Blue Nation will be a delight for scalpers, as it will assure the highest prices ever paid for a home Bulldog basketball game. The Wildcats bring back a lot of memories for me. My first plane trip was 62 years ago as we traveled to Lexington to play the number one ranked Cats that finished their season with. 25-0 record. For years I had listened to Caywood Ledford announce the Kentucky games, and here as a freshman I was about to play before a sell-out crowd far away from home. Dressed in my uniform ready for the team to leave, a special announcement interrupted the radio music. It was announced that the Kentucky football coach Bear Bryant had just resigned to take the Texas A&M football position. That night I saw a Wildcat warm-up drill that all of my teams would use for my coaching career- called the K.Y. Drill. In our game I set a record that probably still stands. Coach Lawson took me out of the game and said,"Bradley, I've never seen a player bounce the ball on his head 3 times!" He was not amused when I said,"Coach I was reading all those Championship banners!" This was during the time that Kentucky built a 129 game winning streak. (Of course, any good Newton Ram fan knows about our high school national record home winning streak!) During my years playing at UGA all of our games against Kentucky were played in Blue Grass territory that assured a sell-out crowd, a big payday for The University, and a "fanny whipping". The last time I saw Coach Adolph Rupp he came to Athens to speak to the Bulldog Tip-Off Club. When he was introduced we gave him a long standing ovation. After looking around, he said, "I don't know what it did for the ladies, but it gave the men a chance to straighten their undershorts!"

2/22/15

Always special to attend the different Halls of Fame that many others have helped to make these opportunities possible. This week we spent time with two other couples whom we respect & with whom we have much in common. Coach & Mrs. Bill Chappell (L) & Coach & Mrs. Dan Pitts (R) are unique couples that Jan & I always enjoy being around. The 3 couples have been married a total of 148 years! The 3 coaches' total number of years coached is 136 years!! The 3 coaches have a total of 793 varsity football wins in their careers! Benita, Jan, & Mary Linda (LtoR) have been great gals & deserve much credit for the accomplishments listed above!

2/7/15

Last night the Atlanta Sports Hall Of Fame inducted another class of accomplished athletes. The stories brought back many memories as we celebrated the careers of ex-Falcon Coach Leeman Bennett, the Marietta High basketball star Dale Ellis, the great Paralympian Al Mead, and the exploits of golfer Charlie Yates. When George Morris the 3rd introduced and told stories about his father, who was one of the great Football players in Georgia Tech history it got personal. As I heard the name Morris it brought back many memories about that name. The thoughts carried me way back to my high school days when I was a 15 year old, about to enter the 9th grade. The American Legion Baseball team I played on gave me the opportunity to be around my real hero, Larry Morris, who was not related to George Morris. I was fortunate to come under the influence of Larry as we traveled and played baseball that summer. I still remember how when the rest of us were wolfing down burgers and fries, Larry would have a quart bottle of milk for his meal. Even then Larry was a great specimen of a man, a fierce competitor, and a class act as a gentleman. My respect for Larry Morris {nicknamed "The Brahma Bull", continued to grow as he and George Morris made headlines for the Yellow Jackets. Larry broke in as a 17 year old freshman linebacker playing next to George, who was already established as one the great college players in America. Many old-timers still believe that George and Larry were the two best linebackers to ever roam the field at Tech. When they hit you, you were hit, even though they wore no face mask. The years that Larry played gave the legendary Coach Bobby Dodd the best 4 years in his coaching career. Larry's teams only lost 5 games, won 4 bowl games, won the National College Championship and a winning streak of 23 games. Larry had a 12 year pro football career, and was the MVP for the 1963 World Champion Chicago Bears. It was very special for me in 1997 to join Larry in the Georgia Sports Hall Of Fame. When we took group pictures, I always stood next to the man that that I had always admired. The licks that he had dished out took a toll on him, and after a couple of years it was more than Kay, his high school sweetheart and longtime wife, could manage to ever bring him back to the HOF functions. After a long period of suffering, Larry died in 2012. We never get too old to remember our high school heroes, especially when they never disappoint us over a lifetime. I hope Larry Morris rests in peace.

9/11/14

Today, September 11, 2014, Jan & I are celebrating the 60th anniversary of our wedding date!! (When we married as teenagers, many thought that we had too many obstacles for our union to be a success.) the main thing that we had going for us was that we loved each other--& wanted to be together! This is the story which we told before, but on this special day, we want to tell it again! It all started outside the Avondale theatre when I saw a 14 year old girl who had just moved in from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She immediately made my heart do flip-flops even though I had not met her yet. I soon found out she was everything I wasn't. She was pretty, intelligent, and she lived in a lovely home in Avondale Estates. I had never won a beauty contest, academics were something to keep me eligible for ball, and I lived across the tracks in the mill town of Scottdale.I was so impressed with this little girl that I asked my momma to buy me some deodorant so I wouldn't smell. On our first date she let me walk her home from our last football game of our sophomore year. God must have wanted me to remember that special night as I got a cut on my hand in the game that left a permanent scar on it. Jan contributed more to my career and life than their is space here to cover it, but I'll try to tell about why a lot of people didn't think our marriage had a chance. Jan tried to attend most all of our games, but this was in the day when most people didn't have cars and walked everywhere they went. She did numerous things to make my athletic efforts special. I remember our senior year the Atlanta Journal had a contest to select the most popular baseball player in the Atlanta area, and their was no doubt in her mind who that was. She organized our students and her neighborhood so that they would collect the daily ballots on which to vote and she would personally send them in for the month long contest. She never has been able to accept defeat and to this day she thinks we got rooked. We finished second to a guy that played shortstop for the Cleveland Indians. Jan even gets credit for my foot speed. Late each night when I would leave Jan's house I would have to walk down the railroad tracks. You would be surprised how a noise in the dark can remind you to work on your running.Our senior year was fun as I received scholarship offers from several schools. Coach Butts wanted me to play football at UGA , but I thought that I wanted a professional baseball career, so I accepted a baseball-basketball offer to become a Bulldog. Jan graduated as an honor student, and her family wanted her to take advantage of her intellectual skills by getting a college degree. Jan firmly stated that the only degree that she wanted was a MRS degree.That fall she got a job in Decatur as I headed out to Athens to compete with and against some other highly motivated guys. This was to prove to be tough as the last 3 years I had seen my heartthrob on a daily basis. My first English class taught me if I was to ever get a diploma from UGA I would have to have Jan's help. The athletic department had a rule if an athlete got married, tthey would have to wait a year to live with their spouse in Athens and receive full financial support.That summer I wanted to show Jan's parents how dependable I could be, so I went out and got a job to impress them. I was a stock boy in the mill store and they were going to pay me 25 cents an hour which I hoped to save to buy rings for Jan. Prior to going back to school we met with her parents and I told them I wanted to marry their underaged daughter. I emphasized that we had been courting for 3 years and I loved her. After they gave their approval I explained the UGA rules to them. They looked a little shocked when I told them Jan would live with them for the next year, but whenever I could thumb a ride to Avondale, I would come to see her. Jan's dad got up and said, "their mind is made up, so I'm going to bed." I though I heard him laughing as he went up the stairs. I had saved a lot of money from my store job so we caught a bus to go downtown in search of wedding rings. When I explained our plans to the clerk at Kay Jewelers she said,"I've got just the rings," as she reached thru some spiderwebs to the bottom row and pulled out a box. She said this beautiful pair will only cost you $99. I knew I had the right gal when Jan said,"oh, we could never afford that." The lady said,"honey we'll get you these rings even if he has to hock the car. I said,"yeah it's her car." I don't know why so many people didn't think our marriage would last very long. In the spring of my junior year three other married couples would join us each evening on the putting green at Stegman hall. All the wives, including Jan were very pregnant, but I always thought it strange that no other students ever joined in the fun. Just prior to our senior year our precious daughter Brenda was born. Our son Brad joined us two years later. Four years later I told Jan we needed one more child to make our family complete. Later when we were getting ready to go to the hospital to get our new baby, Brenda said,"I want a little sister, don't bring me a mean ole brother." So Her mother brought back two little boys-Bob and Bill. Today, on our 60th wedding anniversary, we realize how much God has blessed us and thank Him on a daily basis!
(Jan's letter to Ronald written several years ago.)--http://www.coachronbradley.com/letters/letter%20to%20ronald.pdf
(Ronald's letter to Jan 14 years ago.)--http://www.coachronbradley.com/letters/letter%20to%20jan.pdf --
Article from 50th year of marriage)--http://www.coachronbradley.com/Article%20Scans%202_12_12/98(11).pdf

9/10/14

Today is the 100th consecutive day since we began sharing stories about the 126 varsity teams that I coached! When we first started, we weren't very knowledgable about posting on Facebook, & some of our posts took several hours, due to our inexperience. We have since found how to link various things to pertinent stories, & we would encourage you to go back & recheck to see if we have been able to add something that interested you. It is with mixed emotions that we end our "posts", but there is more material on our website (www.coachronaldbradley.com), & there is probably more there than you will be able to digest. We are thankful to Bill, Brad, Bob & Brenda for making our website available to interested people. Bill is the "webmaster" and has been able to do amazing things with this site! He continues to update almost daily, & we encourage you to send any pictures or articles you think might be useful. (I might add, what a joy it was to coach all three of our sons, & have Brenda work with our teams as a statistician!) I was fortunate to have had a great (& fun) coaching career, & we have memories that will last a lifetime! I remember in college, we had a teacher who taught aspiring coaches, and said on several occasions, "If you break even, you'll be a success!" I guess I won't ever break even, as Brian Knapp, a sports reporter, has written that my varsity basketball teams could go 0-30 for 30 years & still have a winning record! Bill has posted over 300 letters on our website from many of you, (and they never fail to make us feel that our time & efforts were well-spent!). One only has to read three letters from people such as Erin Peitso (one of our former managers & is now an executive), former player Tony Harris (former teacher/coach & businessman), & Felton Hudson (who, as a student, saw our first varsity basketball game & followed our entire careers)---to get a sampling of the contents of all the other letters which are on the website.
As we close out our posts on our various teams, we are listing several links to sites which might be of interest. Our next post will probably be our last, as we celebrate our 60th year of marriage on September 11, 2014! - GPTV 1,255 special-GPTV 1255 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzF_LkvrOsE -
LETTERS, http://www.coachronbradley.com/letters.html
BRADLEY GYM DEDICATION, GPTV-1000th WIN, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyKTZ9I-nzI
special -Coach Bradley Bio-http://www.coachronbradley.com/bio.html

9/9/14

We are nearing our 100th post in which we have been sharing some of the stories about our players, teams, fans, & others. On our website (www.coachronaldbradley.com) we have stat books which give the statistics on every player & team which I coached in varsity basketball & football. The stats accurately cover every one of the 2,000 games I coached in basketball & football combined! (Actually, in all sports, I coached a total of 126 varsity teams, and there are articles on teams other than basketball & football.) As we " dug into our memory bank" to put stories together, it created a lot of emotions---some made us smile, some made us laugh, & it was hard to not shed a tear or two as we wrote about Billy Dean Rutledge, Keith Henderson, George Hearn, & others. We have received a lot of recognition in our career, but without our players and the others of you who supported our program, none of the honors or awards would have been possible. It is hard to describe the feelings I had when I was named to various Halls of Fame, being honored by a gymnasium being named for me, receiving several National Coach of the Year awards, and many other honors too numerous for space to list. Each time I received one of these honors, I realized I was "standing on the shoulders" of our players, fans, teachers, coaches, & others who had made it possible to receive such recognition. The Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame states on my award plaque that I have received almost every honor available to a high school basketball coach. I have received many rings, medallions, etc., commemorating the prestigious awards. I usually wear two of the rings,which stirs up a lot of interest & gives me a chance to tell about the young people with whom I shared a major part of my life. I rotate the rings & medallions so that I will have the correct one when I attend the annual ceremonies at the different Halls of Fame (to which we are always invited)! The rings that I am not wearing are kept in a bank vault. One of the major benefits that come with being a member of a Hall of Fame, is the opportunity to be around many of the "greats" in athletics who I have read about, listened to on the radio, & watched on television! I wish I had the space to share some of the stories that I have heard from some of the "greats" such as Herschel Walker, Pat Sullivan, George Rogers, Charlie Trippi, Deion Sanders, John Smoltz, Coach Erk Russell, & literally hundreds more with whom I've been privileged to spend quality time! Most of you who have helped earn these accolades, have not been able to be with me on some of these special occasions, so I will make available the videos from my induction into the National Federation of High Schools Hall of Fame. I am the only Georgia High School basketball coach to ever be inducted into the NFHS hall of fame. The NFHS Hall of Fame 2012 class of Inductees was flown into Nashville from around the U.S. for a 4-day affair, which culminated with the induction ceremonies. Press Conference https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=danCqF3pvPk
Award Ceremony https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5nykIDiKWY
Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2IUXwvTFG0
Inductees https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWJ5O4Hwcr0

9/8/14

Newton Co. Rams, playing in one of the toughest regions in the state, faced an uphill battle in trying to go to the state tournament for the 3rd consecutive year. The Rams were seeded 3rd & were considered to be a mild threat when pitted against the other bigger & more talented teams. In the opening game of the Region Tournament, the Rams fell behind vs. Lithonia, & it looked like it was going to be a short trip for the Covington lads. Down 8 pts., with 5 minutes left, with Jerrell Boswell leading the way, the Rams rallied to a 64-56 win as Jerrell scored 34 points! In the Region Semi-finals, host Douglass led Newton by 11 pts. at halftime, but the lead had dropped to 7 pts. by the end of the 3rd qtr. Todd Hoskins' spirited play helped pull the game out for the Rams as they rallied to a 53-49 victory. Hoskins scored 19 points. This pitted the Rams against a far-superior Stephenson H.S. Team. The Rams were no match as Stephenson proved that they were the best team in the region! The loss did not dampen the Newton boys' spirit, as they were thrilled to be going to the State Tournament! The 2nd place finish in the Region Tournament gave the Rams a home game in the 1st round of the State Tournament. Trailing East Coweta (22-6 record) going into the 4th qtr., the Rams rallied to a 45-37 win! This put them opposite one of the tallest teams in the state, Lowndes Co., which had a front line of 6'9, 6'8", & 6'5". Early in the 2nd qtr., Newton trailed by 11 pts., but in the 2nd half it was all Newton as they rallied once again, to a 62-41 win (putting them one game away from a highly-coveted trip to the State Final Four at Gwinnett Arena). The big win was paced by Todd Hoskins' 24 pts., and much excitement was added to the evening when it was announced that the win over Lowndes Co. was the 1300th varsity win in his coaching career! When the Ram team pulled out of the parking lot with a police escort, headed back to the MaconColiseum, the team was excited to still be playing. After a pre-game meal in Macon, the team toured the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. (The day before, they had toured the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, & enjoyed seeing the plaque commemorating the Newton High's National Record 129 Home Court Winning Streak!). The Rams, playing what was one of their best games of the season, beat Douglass 51 to 44, to earn their 3rd straight 20 win season and their trip to the State Final Four. Awaiting them in Atlanta was a team which had won the State Championship two of the past three years. (This Wheeler team was built from the same pattern used by the most recent large schools State Champions, as they were loaded with Division 1 talent picked up from the star players from other teams.) The early going made it look as if it were going to be a close game as it was 8-8 at a time-out. The Wheeler Wildcats were just too strong, as they pulled away, defeating us, and going on easily to another state championship the next night! The final record of 21-10 was not even close to describing the excitement that this team created for the Newton High fans! Boswell led the team with a 21.8 scoring average, Hoskins averaged 14 ppg, & led the scoring in all 4 state tournament games. The defense of Brandon Finch & the rebounding of Rudy Nolley (8.7 rpg) were important factors in the team's success. The 2 guys who were most responsible for the success of the season would not be recognized as such if you looked at the stats, only. John Monk & Trent Brown only averaged 3 ppg. each, but their contributions (& leadership) were immeasurable when one really knows their true value! As we near the 100th story on our career, and prepare to end our posts, we can't help but think of the thousands of people who have meant so much to us as they have shared our life!

9/7/14

When the 2005 season started at Newton high School, I thought it would be my last team, ever, to coach, & I wanted it to be a successful year. (I found out years ago that the season is about the players---& not the coach!) With 5 seniors on the team, I knew it would be an "easy sell" to convince the players that this year would be important to them. We had another uphill battle to face as we ventured into a new region which was loaded with great teams & outstanding players which colleges were lined up to recruit! Our seniors, John Monk, Todd Hoskins, Rudy Nolley, Brandon Finch, & Trent Brown, were all fundamentally-sound & well-disciplined basketball players. We had one other real advantage with this team, Jr. Jerrell Boswell, could be counted on to score 20+ points! as he was a "scoring machine"! In our opening game of the season, we blasted Rockdale Co. 85-46, as Boswell scored 31 pts. (a total which he would exceed on 5 other occasions)! We entered January with a 9-3 record, & we were confident we could compete in this tough region! (As we boarded the bus to travel to Redan, I couldn't help but think of how proud I was to have a team dressed in sharp-looking travel outfits!). My thoughts ran to the person, Becky Rutledge, who had made all these outfits possible since my return to NCHS. (She has since continued this tradition for over a decade.) The Redan trip provided us with one of the biggest wins of the season, over the top-ranked team, 65-60. Late in the season we travelled to Lithonia with a 14-4 record & had a terrific comeback win. Trailing 68-54 after 3 qtrs., Boswell scored his season-high 41 pts., & Hoskins had his best game as he was 7/11 from the field, & 10/11 from the free-throw line, for a total of 24 pts., as our come-back win was one of the best of the season. We finished the season with a 16-8 record & were seeded 3rd going into the Region Tournament. (To be continued---)

9/6/14

After my initial teaching/coaching position @ Newton Co. H.S., all the other opportunities came to me. With each new position, I would tell the minimum number of years I planned to be there. When Principal (& former member of one of our state championship teams) hired me, I told him I would be there at least 4 years. My 4 years of being in the classroom were made easier by sharing duties with a former player who had been on my first team at NCHS. Perry Haymore had retired as an assistant principal, and was working part-time, and I can't emphasize enough what he meant to me during my years there. Sometimes a coach is lucky when he doesn't do what he thought he should do. I knew this was going to be my last season at NCHS, and I wanted it to be a great year (without controversy)! The school was going back into the state's highest classification, & we would be playing the best schools from Metro Atlanta & Clayton Co. I can't begin to emphasize enough the important role that Assistant Coach, Rick Rasmussen, played in our success! My high respect for him, and my recommendation, helped him get the opportunity to follow me as the Rams' head coach. One of the main keys to our great season came in an unwanted package. We had a player in the 10th grade who received a varsity uniform, but was so disruptive we sent him down to the JV team! With the problems he created there, we certainly didn't want him in our basketball program. His junior year, he would come to the game to see his brother, Tyrone, play. But even then, it seemed that trouble followed him. When we started practice prior to my final year at Newton, this"troublemaker" showed up at practice. I told Coach Rasmussen that the state rules wouldn't allow us to "cut" him during the summer, but he could be assured that Trent would not be on our team. I, personally, told Trent, "You are not going to be on our team! We are not going to put up with the problems you cause!" He told me, "Coach, if you'll give me one more chance, I won't disappoint you!" But with the effort he put forth in summer practice, I told him I was going to take him with us to play in the games at a week-long camp. Very seldom does a person really change his habits, but Trent's effort & improvement earned him an opportunity to be a part of our team! Looking back on our 2005 season, I realize that without Trent Brown we never would have reached the Final Four! Trent was only 5'7", but he was tough--& I called on him to guard such players as the 6'10" center from Stephenson High who went on to star at Georgia Tech & in the NBA. One night we were down by 1 point in a big region game, with seconds remaining, & Trent on the line with a 1&1, & Coach Rasmussen said to me, "I'll guarantee you, Trent won't 'choke'!" Trent made both free throws to give us an important win! At the end of the season, I was so proud of not only Trent Brown, but the two other seniors who had meant so much to our team, John Monk & Todd Hoskins, that I arranged for them to attend the Men's Final Four Basketball Tournament. About a year later I received a phone call from Trent, & he wanted to thank me for letting him be a part of our team. He said it was the greatest year of his life! Realizing what he had meant to our team and how little confidence I had in him to contribute, I had to choke back tears as I said, "No, Trent, you've got it wrong! I have to thank YOU for what you meant to our team!" Trent Brown went to welding school, and after several years as a welder, he now teaches other aspiring students who want to have a successful vocation and contribute to society! Trent now has a family---& success!! Be sure and look at the end of the preview on final four for comments on Trent Brown. info.http://www.coachronbradley.com/Article%20Scans%202_12_12/2005(3).pdf

9/5/14

The 2003 season had a lot of excitement as the Rams' 66-43 win over Eastside H.S. led to a historic record, as Coach Bradley became "the winningest varsity basketball coach" in Georgia, with 1,255 varsity basketball victories! The 2003 team was also part of another historic win as the Rams defeated Salem, 59-56, and broke Perry H.S. Coach Eric Staples' long-standing record with Coach Bradley's 925th varsity boys' win! When the Region Tournament began, the experience that the Rams had gained by playing before packed gyms paid off. In the opening game of the Region Tournament, the Rams led Winder-Barrow 36-32, but the Bulldogs stormed back and on the last shot sent the game into overtime! Every one of Legale Floyd's 39 points, & Justin Herring's 4 steals, were needed, as they squeaked by Winder-Barrow, 67-66! In the Region semi-finals the Rams trailed Rockdale Co. by 3 pts. at halftime, but with Floyd scoring 26 pts. from all over the court, the Rams won a close one, 59-56! This created much excitement as the Rams were preparing to play for a Region Championship! Cedar Shoals had dominated the region all year, & was a heavy favorite as they were the #1 team in Georgia with a 24-0 record! The Rams played their best basketball of the season for the 1st half, & led 34-25 at the break. Cedar Shoals stormed back & had a 51-50 lead with 35 seconds left in the game and also had possession of the ball. Jr. Justin Herring made the biggest steal of his career, & time-out was called. Antwone Smith scored on a driving layup & added 2 free throws to give Newton Co. a 54-51 final score---& a Region Championship! When the Rams lost in the 1st round of the State Tournament to Creekside H.S., their final record was 22-7 & felt that they had earned much respect with a Region Championship! Legale Floyd was honored, as he was named the Region MVP, averaging 22.4 ppg and finished with a career total of 1,099 points! The 2004 season was another step forward for the Ram basketball program. Probably the biggest game of the season occurred in Athens when, in overtime, the Rams beat Cedar Shoals 100-90! Darius White & freshman Jerrell Boswell scored 18 pts. each in the wild match! A 71-50 win over Madison Co. in the Region Tournament earned the Rams their 2nd straight trip to the State Tournament. When they lost to Atlanta's Mays High School in the State Tournament, the final record was 20-9. Senior Darius White (& his 18 ppg. avg.) would be missed, and so would Justin Herring's floor play!
Article on Region Title-http://www.coachronbradley.com/Article%20Scans%202_12_12/2003-art5.pdf (article on boys record win to break Coach Eric Staples victory total)
http://www.coachronbradley.com/Article%20Scans%202_12_12/2003(13).pdf
(number 1,255th win) http://www.coachronbradley.com/Article%20Scans%202_12_12/2003-art11.pdf
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzF_LkvrOsE (GPTV special on the record 1,255th victory).

9/4/14

In 2001, we had just finished a successful basketball season at Pt. St. Joe H.S. (Florida), with a 27-7 record, when I received a phone call. It was a former player on my teams at Newton High school, J.W.Rutledge, who had returned as principal. It was his wife, Becky, & Darrell Huckaby, whose encouragement led to my opportunity to return to the position I had previously held over 25 years before. Many people said there was "no way" we could have the type of program (or success) that we had experienced years before. I knew that I was not going back to the school which I knew in the "50s & '60s, but I felt that there still were some young boys there that still wanted to play basketball! After talking to my main assistant coach, Rick Rasmussen, & the football coach, Ben Reeves, I felt confident that I would have their support in building a successful basketball program once again. In our first team meeting as I explained what they could expect in our teaching of fundamentals, one of the players sidled up to Coach Rasmussen & said "Why are we wasting our time with this?--we already know how to play basketball!" He really didn't, but that is the reason why he never made our team, as he wasn't willing to learn to play the correct way--(& found out he really didn't know how to play)---& left the team! That 1st summer the Newton gym was being refinished, & we had to practice at Turner Lake Recreation Complex, in a gym which had my name in big, bold letters, above the entrance. After practicing there for a week, we were coming out of the gym one day & one of the seniors looked up & said, "Is that your name up there, Coach?" It was obvious the players did not know me at that point, and it was up to me to "sell myself" to them. We spent most of that 1st year working on fundamentals, and the 2002 team finished with a 13-13 record. The 2003 season returned 3 talented seniors, with Legal Floyd, Antwone Smith, & Quint Middleton, & we felt like we should have a strong team. When we played Eastside H.S. at home, we had a turn-away crowd, as we defeated our cross-town opponents 41-37. But later, when we were scheduled to go to Eastside, the game became a major story that the newspapers & TV publicized that, with a win, I would become the "winningest high school coach in Georgia history!" We defeated Eastside 66-43 for my 1,255th varsity basketball win. GPTV did a special program on the game,& there were several articles published about it in statewide newspapers. We finished the regular-season with a 19-6 record, seeded behind unbeaten (& top-ranked in the state) Cedar Shoals.---to be continued.

9/3/14

It's always very rewarding when a teacher or a coach has a student to excel. This success fuels the desire to work even harder to try and touch young lives. We had a baseball player in our program who had a passion for sports, and used it to touch thousands of lives in his future endeavors. Tommy Hailey was an exciting high school baseball player, and was one who made all his high school teachers proud! He graduated from Newton Co. H.S in 1971, and after playing college baseball, he coached at Truett-McConnell College for 4 years. Tommy felt that he owed something back to the many people who had touched his life, and had wanted to go "back home" & give back to the area which had meant so much to him. In July, 1989, he took over a struggling recreation program in Newton County, and his accomplishments were amazing! Part of his success came from the experiences which he had playing baseball & softball. During his adult years, he played on 3 National Championship softball teams and was recognized as 1st team All-American in 1993! (In 1992, he was inducted into the Georgia Softball Hall of Fame.) As a rule, recreation directors don't last too long at the job, because they have too many people to please. Tommy was able to rely on his experience & local reputation to do some amazing things for the Newton County citizens! Under his direction, there were 6 new parks built in Newton Co., including the award-winning Turner Lake Complex! His reputation for being fair helped secure several national tournaments that sometimes were so large he had to get neighboring counties to help stage the games. When he directed the Dixie Boys World Series in '93, '97, & 2002, they were so well-received that his name became synonymous with success! In 2005 he was inducted into the Dixie Boys World Series Hall of Fame. He brought 6 state softball tournaments & 4 World softball tournaments to Newton County. He had such a reputation in the southeast when girls or boys softball or baseball teams were looking for advice when hosting big tournaments, their first call would usually be to Tommy Hailey! Tommy was very proud when he was able to recognize two of his coaches who had touched his life. There was never a period when he didn't remember the ways in which Coach Billy Crowell was part of his life. It was especially rewarding to him when the softball complex was named after Coach B.C. Crowell. He was very proud when he spear-headed the movement to name the Turner Lake Gym after (long-time) coach, Ronald Bradley. No doubt, his long-time recreation career would not have been as successful without his lifetime mate, Holly, & they are nearing their 40th year of marriage! Thousands of people for generations to come, will reap the benefits of the efforts of a home-town boy who wanted to give back to his community, Tommy Hailey! Dedication of the Gym at Turner Lake. http://www.coachronbradley.com/articles/loveofthegame.pdf

9/2/14

Even tho' the 1975 season was almost 40 years ago, it is hard to forget the problems we encountered that year. Going into a new school building & a new gymnasium, it's hard to practice basketball when a coach has to go to a band director or chorus director to unlock the gym for us to practice. We thought we had solved the problem when our manager, Alton Mason, found a key on the floor & brought it to me. We had a hard time explaining it when he was accused of "stealing" it, but we finally got that straightened out when they finally agreed to give me a key to the gym. It was a shock to me when I heard that our Asst. superintendent, Dr. Lavinia Wood, went into her office & found that all her furniture had been removed--& her office was empty! We were very fortunate to have a very efficient secretary in mrs. Mary Campbell that had kept accurate records and could prove where the athletic funds had gone when the account was completely empty. The message was clear---!! We encountered problems with accusations about some of our players on the first day of the season, but Sheriff Odum straightened that out in a hurry! We lost our dedication game, 73-60, to Cedar Shoals. (This was quite ironic, as we had beaten Cedar Shoals several years prior to that---in their dedication game of their new gym!). It was a very long season, & when we lost to Jonesboro in the Region Tournament, our final record was our worst ever, 14-9. Bright spots were Andre Hollingsworth's (18 ppg) & Todd Whitsitt's 15 ppg & 9 rpg. it seemed to take some pressure off when it was announced that I would be leaving to go to George Walton Academy. The Booster Club president, Bill Henderson, presented the Bradleys with a "This Is Your Life" evening. The next year the new administration (& our so-called friends at the BOE office) finally had the balanced program they wanted. The football team had a record of 4 wins & 6 losses, & the boys basketball team had the 1st losing season in school history. At one time I had coached varsity boys basketball, the JV basketball team, baseball, & had a "midget program" involving almost 500 youngsters. I found it was easier to do it all when your people are not threatened by your success. The first year at GWA our football team had 6 wins & 4 losses, our boys basketball team was 27-2 & won the State Championship, & our girls basketball team finished with a region championship & a 26-2 record! I'll always be thankful to Don Briscoe for rescuing some of our trophies, including the girls' 1963 State Runnerup trophy & the 1964 Boys State Championship trophy, from the trash bin where they had been thrown away! If it hadn't been for one of our former team members, Judge Sammy Ozburn, rescuing the bronze plaque for our 129 national record home court winning streak from the local pawn shop, it would be gone forever! It now has a proper place to be displayed at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in Macon, Ga., along with a picture of the '64 Rams State Champs!!

9/1/14

The '73 season opened with only one senior, Scott Price, leading the way. When the Rams defeated R.E.Lee, 84-47, Scott broke the school scoring record with 47 points. The Rams went on to win their 1st 7 games, before losing at Newnan, 95-85, as Greg Christian & Scott scored 28 pts. each. When Newton won their last game of the regular season at Forest Park, 79-67, it looked like the Rams were ready for post-season play! When the Rams were upset, 49-48, by R.E.Lee, it ended a string of 11 straight trips to the state tournament! Scott Price had a great year as he set several school records. In the R.E.Lee win, he broke records for--most pts. in a qtr. (19), most points in a half (31 points), most field goals in a game (19), most points in a game (47). He also broke season records with an average (26 ppg), & set a new field goal record of 58%, and he was named to the All-Region team for the 2nd straight year! The 19-4 final record would have been outstanding at many schools, but it was the fewest wins in 16 years for a Newton High team! (Lagrange-Newton Film). 1973 Newton County vs Lagrange Reel 1 http://youtu.be/x7Pewkxc_r8
1973 Newton County vs Lagrange Reel 2 http://youtu.be/647ySz5B3AA
1973 Newton County vs Lagrange Reel 3 http://youtu.be/7kb3FE6gMSk
(1973 stat booklet) http://www.coachronbradley.com/booklets/1973.pdf.
Now we move on to the final year (1974) in the old Newton County High School:
We had become aware that our basketball teams' toughest opponents that we faced were not on the basketball courts. Our Rams had a group of young men who "battled hard" & had an outstanding year (despite adversities they faced). For the 1st time in 17 years, we lost our home opener to a strong Cedar Shoals team (68-66). Carl Stevenson showed his talents early in the season as he scored 42 points in a 66-61 win over N. Clayton. In the final game at "Death Valley", in front of a large crowd of fans, Newton defeated Forest Park, 69-51. Kenneth Henderson scored 22 pts. & had 17 reb. (& the Rams had actually dropped out of the Top10 rating for the 1st time in 14 years). The '74 seniors, Greg Christian, Carl Stevenson, Mark Byrum, Kenneth Henderson, & Scott Maloney, got together prior to the Region Tournament & vowed to "go down battling!" In the opener of the Region Tournament, the Rams upset Newnan 55-52, then upset LaGrange 67-65, & with dreams of another Region Championship, the faced neighbor, Rockdale Co. in the region finals & lost, 58-56 in a valiant effort! Greg Christian was the leading scorer in all 3 tournament games with 19, 25, & 17 pts. In the Rams' 13th trip in 15 years to the state tournament, the Rams lost to Cedar Shoals 55-53. Stevenson ended up with a 21.2 avg. as he was named All-Region, & Christian avgd. 15 ppg. Even tho' the Rams finished with their worst record in 17 years, the accomplishments of this year's team was recognized when Coach Bradley was named Statewide Coach of the Year by the AJC! http://www.coachronbradley.com/scans/1972-7.pdf
In our next story, we leave behind our 18-year coaching career at NCHS (to be cont'd)—

8/31/14

This article finishes our story on the 1972 NCHS boys basketball season. (As we began this one, we realized it has been 90 straight days we have posted on our 50-yr. HS coaching career!)---As we headed to Atlanta for the state tournament, I knew that this team had already proven that it was one of our great ones, regardless of the outcome in Atlanta. Our team was composed of outstanding players & had experienced state tournament play in each season of their high school career. We opened state play with Druid Hills, which had a proud tradition of basketball excellence. The Red Devils were no match for the Rams, as they fell 63-46. Kevin Price, Donnie Freeman & Scott Price all scored 18 pts. each, with Scott dominating the boards with 18 rebounds. Once again at the state tournament, our hotel rooms overlooked the Tech coliseum, & we all realized that this game vs. a powerful Decatur team was likely to have a turn-away crowd. The Decatur HS athletic tradition was strong, but it was basketball which had come into prominence in the more-recent years. Both teams had been highly-ranked in the polls all season, (with Decatur currently having the #1 spot, & Newton holding #3). Decatur was led by 6'5" Mike Dickerson, who was rated as one of the best players in the country & had already signed a basketball scholarship to FSU, & he had plenty of help with a 6'10" center & a talented guard who had already signed to play QB at Georgia Tech. The capacity crowd witnessed an exciting game between two great teams! The game came down to a close finish between the evenly-matched teams. Donnie Freeman was having a sensational night as he made 9/12 fg attempts (& scored 28 pts.) and was involved in the "key" play of the game. Two Decatur players collided & Donnie, not even involved in the play, was called for his 5th foul in the final seconds, & the end result was a 68-65 loss. (It was another very controversial loss in the state tournament for the Rams.) Donnie was selected All-state again, as he averaged 21.1 ppg & 14.4 rebounds. Kevin had a 19.3 ppg avg. (& his 1,202 career pts. was the 5th highest total ever at NCHS). Scott avgd. 14.6 ppg. & 10.6 reb., & Neal Dickerson finished with a 12.2 scoring avg. The Rams finished the season with a 25-2 record, and was rewarded by the fans with a 5-day trip to see the Kentucky State High School basketball tournament! (It was a real treat, as most of the guys had never flown before!). The Rams' 14-yr. record now stood at 379 wins & 46 losses, (which averages out to 27 wins & 3 losses per year). The 33 titles, 10 Region Championships & 3 State Finalists, was even more impressive when one considers that NCHS had never won a region title in any major sport prior to this time! (With one of the "winningest" 14 yr. periods in Georgia high school basketball history, not many would have believed that this was the end of a great basketball era at NCHS.) In the spring, a new county administrator came to me and said that basketball in Newton Co. was being over-emphasized & they were disbanding our "midget basketball" program (which I had operated without any pay & now numbered almost 500 young girls & boys). I thought it strange that a county administrator (who didn't even live in Newton County but was in charge), would be bringing me a negative directive that we were over-emphasizing basketball. I then realized we had a crack forming in the foundation of our basketball program--(one which would only continue to widen)! I was shocked when I was informed that our large basketball savings account (which had never been touched), was closed--and the funds were used for purposes other than basketball! 1972 Newton County vs Decatur Reel 1 http://youtu.be/fgkORmd8UPQ
1972 Newton County vs Decatur Reel 2 http://youtu.be/ZnqOmHoNXFc
1972 Newton County vs Decatur Reel 3http://youtu.be/AXuQ1fUo3mk ..Bench activity, senior picnic, family tape-1972 Rams leaving to go to state tournament http://youtu.be/80WMfv5TOnc
Final stat Book- http://www.coachronbradley.com/booklets/1972.pdf

8/30/14

With the 1972 regular season completed, the Rams' record stood at 21-1, but all of our true fans knew that the "real season" was about to start! When NCHS went to Forest Park in the last regular-season game & ended the Panthers' 64-game home court winning steak 69-65, it assured the Rams of being top-seeded for the Region 6AAA tournament! The Region Tournament featured 3 teams that hat been in the state's Top 10 poll all season long. The crowds mirrored the '71 tourney, when seats were usually gone by the first game of the evening, and no one else was allowed entrance until a like number left the gym! In the Rams' opening game, they rolled over Jonesboro High, 93-49, as the Price brothers led the way. Kevin's 21 pts. & younger brother, Scott, had 18 pts. & 16 rebounds. Three other NCHS players were in double-figures, with Donnie Freeman's 17 pts., Carl Stevenson's 12 pts., & Greg Christian's 11 pts. After another happy meal at Shoney's, the talk was on "the game of the year", the one which would put us in the Region finals (& one of the highly-coveted 2 spots in the State Tournament)! After an exciting day at school, and a pep-rally send-off, the when the team entered the Morrow gym, the Newton fans welcomed them with a standing ovation! (One of the players described the welcome as "something that never gets old & sends chills up & down your spine!") By halftime of the semi-final game vs. Griffin, the game was just about settled, with the final score of 93-73. The Price brothers "showed off" their talents, once again, as Scott scored 20 pts.& Kevin 19 pts. Freeman added 18 pts., & for the 2nd straight game, & sophomore Carl Stevenson scored 12 pts. During our after-game meal, it was a surprise to the team when word reached us that the 21-1, & state-ranked Price team, had been eliminated, & it would be the Forest Park Panthers we would be facing for the Region Championship! The championship game proved that this Newton team was one of the best that the Rams had put together in the school's history. They ran roughshod over the Panthers 84-65 for their 5th straight Region title! The way was led by Freeman's 26-pts, Kevin's 20 pts-17 reb., Scott's 18 pts-13 reb, & Neal Dickerson's 15 pts. The after-game ceremony recognized the Price brothers & Freeman as All-Region, & Kevin Price (with his 60 pts. & 33 reb.) was recognized with the region MVP award! ---- Now, on to the State Tournament!!

8/29/14

Continuing our story of the 1972 Rams---coming off the big win over Forest Park, the Rams blasted Griffin 82-53, as Donnie Freeman scored 26 pts., & Scott Price had 15 rebounds. With a 13-1 record, the Rams beat Henry Co. in the Rockdale Inv. Tourn., 101-82. Kevin Price had his "career" scoring night, as he scored 41 points, one point shy of Tim Christian's school scoring record of 42! He also tied the school record of most points in one quarter, 16, & made all 17 straight free throw attempts! Donnie Freeman scored 28 points & had a career-high 27 rebounds! In the championship game Freeman scored 24 pts. with 15 rebounds, as Rockdale fell to the Rams, 90-68. With much talk about just how good this Ram team was, the AJC came out with a huge article on the day the Rams were traveling to Newnan to face a dangerous Newnan High team. It didn't phase Freeman as he scored 22 points, had 17 rebounds, and Kevin added18 points in the 69-61 win. Back home, the Rams defeated LaGrange 71-46, to give the Rams a17-1 record. Kevin Price scored 25 & Neal Dickerson had the best scoring game of his career (22pts), as the Rams won 78-63, and Scott Price added 16 rebounds. Kevin Price continued "on a roll" as he scored 29 pts. in a 78-46 win over Therrell, and then had his 2nd highest scoring total of his career with 31 pts. as the seniors celebrated Senior Night with a 95-67 win over Washington High of Atlanta. This brought up the game that everyone was talking about. Forest Park & Newton had identical records, and the winner was going to be top-seeded on the Region Tournament, & both teams would obviously like to be in the bracket opposite Price HS. The Panthers had a home-court winning streak of 64 straight victories, and decided they would sell out the game prior to game-day. When the announcement was made public that we only had 250 tickets available for our fans, there was a line of people who spent the night outside the school, in order to assure that they would be able to buy tickets to the game! Before a large home crowd, the Forest Park Panthers led most of the first half, and early in the 3rd qtr. Freeman's scoring & Kevin Price's rebounding took over the game as the Rams scored 10 straight points & broke the game open, as the Panthers' home winning streak came to an end! The 69-65 NCHS win was mainly fueled by Freeman's 26 pts. & Kevin Price's 17 rebounds, as the Rams assured themselves top-seeding in the Region Tournament! (http://www.coachronbradley.com/scans/1972-2.pdf - Article on Forest Park-Newton County Rams game). Now the Rams' goal was to win their 5th straight Region Championship (& the 10th Region Championship in 12 years)!

8/28/14

With an 8-0 record, the Rams & their fans were excited about having the 8th- ranked Price HS come to "Death Valley"! Long before the doors opened, the crowd was assembling outside the gym, and in less than an hour after they were opened, , the gym was full to capacity--(& they were then shut tightly!). With a balanced attack, headed by Donnie Freeman's 24 pts., Scott Price's 22, Kevin Price's 20 pts., & Neal Dickerson's 20 pts., the Rams sent the visitors back to Atlanta with a 77-65 defeat! The victory moved Newton Co. Into 1st place in the state rankings, as they headed to neighboring Rockdale Co. HS. The Rams were pushed in a close game, but pulled away in the 2nd half, with a 78-69 win as Donnie Freeman scored 29 pts., & Kevin Price scored 20 pts., & Neal Dickerson had 16 pts. With a 10-0 record, the Rams boarded their chartered bus, travelled to Atlanta, still "smarting" from the defeat suffered at Washington High, suffered the previous year! With Kevin Price scoring from all over the floor (26 pts.) & Freeman scored 22 pts & dominated the boards with 20 rebounds, the Rams "punished" Washington, 71-55! Next came a trip to Atlanta's Price HS, that all the players remembered from the previous season! In a "wild & wooly" contest, Price H.S. gave the visiting Rams their 1st defeat of the season, 62-60! The NCHS lads, with their 11-1 record, didn't have much time to think about the loss, because one of the pre-season favorites, Forest Park HS, loomed just around the corner! Freeman made sure that the packed house knew early that Forest Park couldn't play with the Rams on this night, as his 24 pts. & 25 reb. were instrumental in the 58-42 victory! 1972 Newton County vs Forest Park Reel 1 http://youtu.be/beLDFUTDLQs
1972 Newton County vs Forest Park Reel 2 http://youtu.be/CKU76DpzyM8 1972 reel 3-1971 Newton County vs Forest Park Reel 3 http://youtu.be/PvoBgE5I-gY
To be continued.

8/27/14

As the 1972 Georgia High School basketball season opened, the Newton Co. Rams felt like they had solidified their tradition the previous year. The Rams had been ranked in the state's Top 10 of all the largest schools all of the previous season (with their final record of 22-5 and a Region Championship, which led to a final state ranking of 4th in the final polls). 4 of the 5 losses occurred in overtime in very controversial games, with 2 of the losses being decided at the scorer's table! This much-anticipated season opened at home vs. strong neighbor, Rockdale County, & Kevin Price was successful on 8 of 13 field goal attempts, scoring 25 pts., with 14 rebounds, leading the way to a 77-64 win. Traveling to Griffin, Kevin improved his game with 9/12 attempts, again scoring 25 pts., as the Rams won 83-55. Assisting in the win were the steals by Greg Christian (6) & Neal Dickerson (5). In the following game with R.E.Lee, Kevin's brother, Scott Price, stepped up & scored 20 pts. in a 67-54 win as Kevin had 18 rebounds. We began to notice that many of our previous players were coming back to the games to watch the players that many of them had helped to coach in the Newton "midget basketball" program. Prior to the 4th game of the season, there was a scene that was to be repeated several times that year, as large groups of fans gathered in the parking lot, picnicking, while waiting to see 2 of the state's best teams play! With pressure from the state fire marshals, standing-room crowds were being limited, which only put more pressure on the local administrators! With the Newnan defense putting pressure on the Price brothers, Donnie Freeman dominated with 26 pts. & 20 reb., as he led the way to an 85-79 win! The trip to LaGrange proved to be a tough one as the Rams eked out a 64-60 win with the Price brothers scoring 18 pts. each, & Freeman having another 20 reb. game! After Therrell HS fell 71-51, Freeman again proved why he was one of the state's best with 22 pts. & his 3rd straight game of 20 rebounds! After a 71-57 win at R.E.Lee, & a spotless record of 8-0, the stage was set for a big game in Covington as Price HS was coming to town with another very talented team!----to be continued--

 

8/26/14

There was a time when a Region Championship was almost an unattainable-goal for a Newton Co. boys basketball team! But, with the success the Rams had over the past 13 years, there was no ceiling on their goals for the season! The Ram teams had been continually ranked in the Top 10 for the prior 11 years! Almost all of the teams' senior starters, except for three, had received college basketball scholarships. Two of those three went on to very successful medical careers! There had been 9 Region Championships in 11 yrs., & an outstanding average over a 13-yr. period of 27 wins,only 3 losses, & 31 different team championships! So, even with the graduation of the 1971 team that won the Region Championship & finished 4th in the state's final Top 10 rankings, the Newton fans had grown confident in their expectations for another great team! When the Rams lost all-region & all-state player, Clay Summers (& his 20 ppg. avg, who had signed a basketball scholarship to Georgia Tech), the fans knew that void would provide opportunities for other players who had been "waiting their turn"! We also knew we would need someone to fill the void left by Stuart Clive, who was one of the best playmakers in Newton history. (When a senior graduated with all his awards, jackets, patches, etc., there was always a young player such as a Scott Price, Greg Christian, or Carl Stevenson, anxious to step in & take advantage of that opportunity!). With Sr. Donnie Freeman returning for the '71 season, everyone knew he was a proven-product! In the previous year, Donnie averaged 15.3 ppg, & had 12 rpg., as he garnered All-State, All-region, & the Region 6AAA MVP awards, in one of the toughest a Regions in the state! Steady Kevin Price was a proven star, as he had been a starter the previous 2 years & averaged 15 ppg & earned all-region honors. Neal Dickerson was returning & was experienced enough as a ball-handler to run the Ram offense. The schedule was virtually the same as in 1971, which drew turn-away crowds! Local sportswriter, Bob Greer, was already predicting a record 9th straight appearance for the Rams in the state tournament. After a grueling spring practice, the summer 1-on-1 program, & all the fall workouts, the curtain was ready to open on the 1972 NCHS Rams basketball season! (picture & comments of 1972 http://www.coachronbradley.com/scans/1972-1.pdf)---to be continued

 

8/25/14

Our story on Darrel Huckaby continues: By giving up coaching, it gave Darrell more time to write from his vast reservoir of stories & experiences. I always encouraged him to write full-time, but he felt that he wanted to be in front of his students, and he needed the funding to take care of his family. His writings have had an effect & influence on thousands in many places, and in many ways. I remember one of my friends at UGA telling me about their defensive coach, who was being harassed by a lot of Bulldog followers about their porous defense. The coach had previously stated that the only thing he read in the newspapers was Darrell Huckaby's articles. One day when Darrell wrote about his defense, my friend told me that this "tough" guy actually shed tears when he read Darrell's article and said, "Even 'Huck' has turned against me!" The tough coach felt that many people had turned their back on him. One thing that we can know is that there are thousands of us who will never turn our back on Darrell Huckaby! He has always remembered his humble beginnings in a little mill town, but with great support from his family, and his early mentor, Coach B.C. Crowell, he has enjoyed a life appreciated & admired by many. On numerous occasions I have called on Darrell to speak to my teams, to "run errands" for me, and to do many other things such as taking my players to the Kentucky H.S. State Tournament while I was out of the country, make sandwiches to take with us on some of our trips, etc., (the list of his contributions is extremely long, but you get the idea--). He has never failed me! Darrell has written articles on all of our teams and many of his stories are about the lives of many special friends. You only have to read one of his stories, such as J.Hope Branham (http://www.coachronbradley.com/Article%20Scans%202_12_12/700-2.pdf) or Sheriff Henry Odum (http://www.coachronbradley.com/sheriff_odum.html), or one of his many books, to know why he is considered to be one of the great writers of our times! I've always thanked my Maker for Darrell Huckaby, and the major role he has played in my life! We are including many articles Darrell has written for us and about us. http://www.coachronbradley.com/huckabyarticles.html.

8/24/14

When you go to the dictionary for the definition of "unique", you'll find that it is "something which has no like or equal". Darrell Huckaby is unique in the lives of the thousands of people who know, read, & have enjoyed his writings! Darrell has been like that in our lives. Darrell first came into our lives as a 5-yr. old child who fell in love with our Rams. It wasn't long before he was writing things about the young Newton Co. players. By the time Darrell reached high school, he was completely colored in "Ram blue & white." His loyalty was unquestioned as he was listed as our team manager--but make no mistake, this young man was as valuable as any of our great players! You only have to look at our video site (www,coachronbradley.com) & watch our sideline activity during our Decatur game in the State Tournament to see his enthusiasm as a teenager--a trait he has carried throughout his life. I could write a book about Darrell's "antics", which are unparalleled, but I will try to keep it simple. On one occasion, in an important region semi-finals, he got after the referees about what he thought was a terrible call. He was very upset when they penalized our team by us receiving a technical foul! With tears in his eyes, and expecting a "tongue-lashing" from me, he apologized profusely. I remember hugging him & thanking him for saving me from an embarrassing technical foul as he beat me to the punch. (Now, Darrell remembers the story a little differently, but he always said, "Don't let the truth stand in the way of a good story!") I didn't realize that this young boy had a photographic mind that would capture a memory of so much about our lives--of so many things important to us. Years later Jan & I were talking about the things he could remember about what had happened. Jan remarked--"He even remembers things that didn't happen." Many people like to try and compare Darrell's writings to other southern writers. This is ridiculous as many of these great writers have their own following. Many of these writers spent lonely lives. At times, after partying into the night, most of their friends would go home to their families, leaving them to ponder a life alone for many of their adult years. Darrell has never been alone! He has his lifetime mate, Lisa, beside him, even though when you look at her expression in the caricature of her on the cover of his book, "All Fifty", you wonder if she really wanted to travel down all the paths he took her. The love of their life has always been their children, Jamie, Jackson, & Jenna. Also, he has always had the support of his in-laws (& close neighbors), former coach Benny Potts & his wife, Bitsy. Like many famous writers, Darrell has his own following of thousands of fans all over the country, but none more fervent than in his home area of Newton-Rockdale Co. Darrell & I have shared a major part of our lives. He,& his very supportive parents, attended most all of our games, and Darrell even wrote some articles & poems about our teams early in his life. Darrell used to love to talk to Covington News sports writer, Bob Greer, about the "Blab Slab" & sports. Darrell and I shared another common love-- the Bulldogs of UGA. I gave him my highest recommendation possible for him to be a part of the UGA basketball staff, where he did an excellent job as their manager. His 4- years in Athens at UGA helped cement the love he has for the "Dawgs", & his family & fans have reaped the benefits for years! After graduating from UGA, he entered the teaching/coaching profession. He was an excellent teacher/coach, with a lot of love for those under his direction. Even though he was an outstanding coach, he gave up that part of his career in order to have more time for his first love--writing. I actually taught with Darrell in two different schools after his coaching career ended, & personally observed the respect his students had for him & his teachings. Any student who ever stepped into Darrell's classroom came out with a better understanding about the history of our country. In fact, as I think about it, if we could send Darrell to Washington for a year, we might be able to get back for our children & grandchildren the great country & opportunities that we once knew!! --to be continued.

8/23/14

When I look back over my 50-year coaching career, I never felt like I had "a job", as I always felt that I was blessed to have the opportunity to teach young people. I always thought it might be important if each child had stamps on their head that said "raise with care!" I realized that most young people had not yet met with much favor in life, and were enthusiastic and excited about their future! Once they chose to be part of one of our teams, they knew that they had earned their way into an "exclusive club"! They didn't really care how much I knew, until I could prove how much I really cared for them. (Some of the things we would share, and talk about, were usually new to them.) We realized that athletics was a place where lessons could be learned--lessons which were a "means to an end, and not the end, itself!" We would try to talk about the future, even tho' most of them thought their future was "now". We discussed that what they were spending their time doing now should be important to them now--and to their future! As I look back on the memories of the many teams for which I had the opportunity to be head coach (& share my thoughts, which I believed would be meaningful in their future), I later had many players tell me how some of those stories impacted their adult lives! I only coached in 2 schools away from the area where most of my 50-yr. career was spent. I previously wrote about how Dr. J.Y. Jones influenced us to come to teach & coach at Trinity Christian School in Dublin, Ga. It was there that our girls basketball team, led by our only senior Emilie Wages, brought us our 1,000th varsity career win! This brought on a great celebration in which Dr. Jones & Booster Club president, Diane Wages, brought together people from all parts of our lives! GPTV (& Jim Ginnochio) spent 2 days in Dublin creating a program featuring a poem by former team member, and long-time friend, writer Darrell Huckaby. The 5 years we spent in Dublin were fun years which we shared with a lot of people! The only out-of-state coaching job came about in a strange way! Our son, Brad, was at our Panama City Beach condo in September, and noticed in the paper that Port St. Joe H.S. needed a boys basketball coach. When I called & sent them my resume, they encouraged me to take the job, as they desperately needed a coach! I decided not to teach (after I heard what they paid teachers), & they were really surprised when I took the job for only the low coach's salary! As we went to the school on my 1st trip there, I told my wife, Jan, it was strange not to know anyone at PSJ, and the people didn't know anything about me. When we entered the building, someone yelled, "Coach Bradley!"---& it was Maridel Meyers, who had been one of our students at Newton Co. HS in Covington & I had also taught with her mother there! This was an unusual job, with us traveling 35 miles each way from PCBeach to the school! It was a very successful season, & in the state tournament when we led Benjamin H.S. of N.Palm Beach, by 7 pts. at halftime, I thought we might be on our way to another state championship. Hampered by fouls in the 2nd half, we lost to the future state champions, 45-37. We finished a very interesting & successful year with 3 different championships & a final record of 27-7. Thanks to the persuasion of Becky Rutledge & Darrell Huckaby, & the principal (formerly one of our Newton basketball players, JW Rutledge), I was offered the same basketball position which I had held 30 years earlier!!-- & we eagerly headed North!!
Special with Jim Ginnochio and poem by Darrell Huckaby.http://youtu.be/IyKTZ9I-nzI GPTV Video
Port St. Joe high basketball booklet. http://www.coachronbradley.com/booklets/2001.pdf

 

8/22/14

This is the 4th story on the 1971 team. As the 6AAA tournament opens, the Rams are trying to do something no Newton Co. team has ever done--win 4 region championships in a row. On the day before our first tournament game, I took the boys team to Morrow to support the girls' team & we discovered that Shoneys was having a "centennial sale" with everything on the menu half-price! This added some excitement for the team, as they knew they would be able to eat anything they wanted (for as long as we stayed alive in the tournament)! The demands for a seat was unbelievable and by the opening game the gym was full, and the fire marshals would not let anyone in the gym until someone left. In the opening game the Rams made quick work of Griffin, 71-48. Clay Summers scored 18 pts. with 14 rebounds, & Donnie Freeman showed off his talents with 17 pts. & 14 rebounds! This set up game with Price to determine one of the two teams from our region to go to the state tournament. With a packed house on hand, Kevin Price (21 pts.-14 reb) & Freeman (16 pts-11 reb), the Rams defeated Price 71-67. After the game, during a happy celebration at Shoney's, several players said that the Price team was the most talented team they had ever faced, and they felt sorry for them when in the final seconds, during a Ram FT, their two guards were laying on the floor, crying. This set the stage for a huge clash with Forest Park! The Rams led the Panthers 36-32 at halftime, & led most of the 2nd half, & Forest Park scored on the buzzer to tie the game 65-65. The overtime was all Newton Co., as they won 75-70 for their fourth straight Region Championship! Freeman's statistics at Morrow were outstanding as he made 19 of 31 field goals, 18 of 23 free throws, hauled down 41 rebounds, and had a total of 56 points! He was an easy choice for MVP, and it was obvious, when looking at the beautiful (& expensive) silver trophy was awarded, it was obvious that the local tournament directors thought someone from their Clayton Co. area would receive it! In the opening game of the state tournament the Rams broke open a close game with R.L.Osborne in the 2nd half, going on to a 79-62 win. Summers led the way with 21 points. While staying in our hotel across from the Tech Coliseum, there was much talk about (if we won) we would get to play Carver-Columbus with their 7'1" center, "Fessor" Leonard, who (on one of his blocked shots), their crowd would yell, "The Moose is on the loose! The Moose is on the loose!" Prior to the start of the game, with a packed coliseum of 7,000, Savannah's Hall of Fame coach, Harold Scott, looked around & remarked that he "had never seen a high school team with fans as supportive as the Newton Co. fans," The Rams led Baldwin Co. most of the way, but Baldwin scored in the last seconds of the game to send it into overtime! The next 2 OTs had similar results as the Braves scored on the buzzer each time to extend the game. In the 3rd OT, which proved to be the longest game in the GHSA 50-yr. history, with the Rams leading 68-67, with :00s left on the clock, a Baldwin player heaved a shot from mid-court--that missed. But with tremendous noise from the fans, a Braves player rebounded, put the ball back on the board--& it went in! I ran to the scorer's table, & almost said, "it's good!" (to confuse the timer), but I didn't have "the guts" and I said, "It's no good!" The timer smiled at me, made a motion that it was good, and the 69-68 loss ended a great season with a 27-3 record and broke the "Ram" nation's heart! Summers, with a 20 ppg. avg, earned All-region & All-state honors and a scholarship, which would make him a teammate with Forest Park's star, Rocky Davis, at Georgia Tech. Freeman, also earned All-region & All-state honors, with averages of 15.3 ppg. & 12.6 rpg. Kevin Price (15 ppg. avg,) was also named to the All-region team. But, Newton County fans all knew that without the great play & leadership of senior, Stuart Clive, this outstanding season would not have been possible. This was our 9th Region Championship in the last 11 seasons, and now our 13-year record stood at 355 wins, 44 losses, with 31 different championships!  Article in AJC about Rams.http://www.coachronbradley.com/scans/1971-litsch-article.pdf

8/21/14

Continuing the story of the 1971 team, with a 9-0 record: A good coach knows that there are going to be both highs & lows in a season, so a team tries to avoid several losses clumped together, which "shakes" the team's confidence. Newton High travelled to Rockdale Co. & led most of the game, but with 6 seconds left, Willy Zanders hit a 15-footer, & gave NCHS their first loss, 69-68! Kevin Price gave a valiant effort as he made 14 of 20 attempts for 32 points. After defeating Washington HS at home, 76-63, the stage was set for a big game in Atlanta at Price HS. We went to the game, dressed in our uniforms & "warm-ups", for the first time, ever, (in a caravan of 2 chartered buses--1 for the team & 1 for the fans). In one of the most unusual settings ever faced by a Rams' team, we were defeated 79-75, in a wild overtime during which we lost 4 starters on fouls. Sheriff Henry Odum had made arrangements for the state patrol to escort our buses to the expressway as we headed home, pondering our future. The season didn't get any easier as we travelled to face the Panthers in Forest Park. We lost to one of the state's best teams, 84-79, which was the Panthers' 15th straight victory (& 53rd straight home win), despite the great efforts of Summers' 34 points, & Price's 24 points. In one of the strangest finishes, ever, we played 4 overtimes in a wild 75-73 win over the Bears at Griffin HS. Summers' total of 32 points might have been higher, but the game was stopped in the 4th overtime by GHSA curfew rules. Next up was the Rockdale Tournament, in which a revenge-seeking Ram team defeated the RCHS Bulldogs, 76-67. The NCHS record now stood at 13-3. The Newton boys had overcome mid-season adversity with 7 straight wins when, in their last road game, we lost at Washington High in Atlanta, 86-77. This set the stage for one of the biggest, and most anticipated, games in school history. The #1-ranked Panthers (with their #1-ranked player, Rocky Davis), had all of Newton County excited about this clash! As the doors were opened, the gym was quickly filled to capacity! With thunderous applause from the home fans, the Rams hit their first 4 shots of the game to lead 8-0, and went on to a 74-63 victory, ending the Panthers' home winning streak! Price & Summers did most of the "damage" as they scored 24 points each, but had help from Stuart Clive's 13 pts. & Donnie Freeman's 11 pts. Fan, Bobby Snipes, said, "That game was as good as it gets for a high school basketball game, but I was afraid that with the noise level, the building might fall in!" Former Newton player, and lifetime fan, Alison Walden, said, "The game against Forest Park ranked up there as one of the most fun & spirited nights ever to take place in the Newton gymnasium!". Now the stage was set for the 6AAA Region Tournament! And with a record of 18-4, we were seeded #2 behind the #1-ranked Forest Park team, which had a 22-2 record.

 

8/20/14

Now, the 2nd part of the story of the 1971 NCHS basketball team: When a team has averaged only 2 losses a year for 12 years, you wouldn't think we would have to prove much to the public. When the crowd arrived for the home opener vs. Rockdale, there was much "chatter" about how the Rams would do in Georgia's largest classification. Behind Kevin Price's 21 points, and Clay Summers' 18 points, they won their opener 75-60 over a good Rockdale High team. When the usually-tough Griffin team came to town, the Rams were too strong in a 77-46 rout as Summers scored 19 points & Kevin had 16 rebounds. The 1st road trip is always a challenge, but Newton was able to pull out an 80-70 win over R.E.Lee H.S., with Summers scoring 28 points, Stuart Clive's 17 points, Kevin's 15 points, & Donnie Freeman's 14 points, it made for a happy team. On the way home, the team enjoyed a fine meal at a Barnesville catfish restaurant. One of the much-anticipated games of the season thus far was when the Rams traveled to play the highly-ranked Newnan Cougars. The Cougars led for most of the game, & were leading 67-65 with 2 seconds left in the game, when Freeman's tip-in sent the game into overtime! The Rams were able to win, 77-70, with Freeman's 21 pts., 16 rebounds, leading the way. With a 4-0 record, the Rams swept through the next 4 games, to give them a perfect record as they prepared to face Price HS, another Top-10 team, out of Atlanta. Price was 7-0, & had already beaten the #1 team in the state, the Forest Park Panthers. Price brought in maybe the tallest & most talented team, (which featured two future NBA players and a host of other talented athletes)! The gym was filled to capacity soon after the doors were opened, and our principal, Mr. Sharp, was shocked, when through a crack in the door, a Price fan offered him $100 to let him in to see the game! The place was rocking as the Rams led at halftime, 37-30. After a fast & furious 2nd bald, the Rams had won their 9th straight victory, 73-70. After the game, the Price players sat on the floor in front of their bench in disbelief that their great team had lost the game! Summers paced the way with 22 pts., terrific guard Stuart Clive's 18 pts. Also, Freeman's 16 pts. & 15 rebounds were critical, as were Kevin Price's 13 points! The Rams had served notice early in the season that their tradition was no "fluke"! The Price win & a record of 9-0 propelled the Rams into the state's Top 10 teams, & Summers was listed as the 15th best player in the state's Top 25 poll. The Rams' fans well-knew that this season still had many more challenges ahead with a return trip to Price HS, & yet to face Washington HS, & highly-ranked Forest Park.

8/19/14

Our 1971 season was much anticipated as the Rams were moving into the highest classification in Georgia. Many "basketball experts" were predicting that this team was too short to compete with the taller teams in in the larger schools. The schedule would obviously be the toughest that any Newton High team had ever played. The "sooth-sayers" said there was no way the Rams could maintain their 12-year average of 28 wins & only 3 losses, much less keep up their record of winning 8 Region Championships in 12 years! Spring practice proved that there was plenty of talent to go along with the three returning starters that we knew would be among the best in the state. Senior All-State Clay Summers, averaged 18 ppg as a junior, & 2 other "double-figure" starters were Sr. Stuart Clive, & Jr. Kevin Price. During spring practice we had many new talented players come out for the team. By the end of spring practice, there was one new player who had earned a starting spot! Donnie Freeman, though only 6', would be playing against much bigger guys than he, but very few would be able to match his quickness & jumping abilities. We became aware of a dilemma when Mrs. Summers came to me & wanted me to tell her son, Clay, that he could not play football. I thought it "foolhardy" for a senior, who had never played football, to risk all the scholarship offers, but I had never told a player that he could not play another sport! Her fears came to reality, as Clay suffered a broken leg in his first week in pads on the football team. Thankfully, he had plenty of time before our season started to recover from his injury, and be ready for basketball season! When our schedule was finalized, our fans were thrilled to see the names of the state powers on our schedule. It featured the always-tough Griffin Bears, Newnan, featuring a very talented team which included future NFL star, Drew Hill, LaGrange H.S.,a basketball power for years, R.E.Lee H.S., & several Atlanta schools including Price H.S.,(which had 2 players that later played in the NBA) & Washington H.S., one of the oldest and most successful Atlanta schools in state history. When the Newton fans saw the top-rated Panthers of Forest Park on the schedule, and realized the #1 player in Georgia, 6'9" Rocky Davis, would be coming to Covington to face the Rams, the excitement was almost like a little kid waiting for Christmas!

8/18/14

Several years ago, one of our great players called me to come to Atlanta & give his committee some help with a project they had been working on. This was one of our players who not only had outstanding success in high school, but had gone on to a very successful playing & coaching career in college. The variety of experiences he had, helped him to become the president of one of the largest construction companies in Atlanta. There was no way I could say "no" (even tho' I couldn't imagine what help I could give Tim--with the type of "project" on which he was working!). I traveled to downtown Atlanta, and we met on 28th floor in the luxurious suite of offices in a beautiful skyscraper! As the meeting began, they introduced me to the committee of 10, & I recognized Linda, another one of our outstanding students who had reached lofty heights in her career. As I thought of these two students, I couldn't help but remember the roles that their parents had played in their lives---and in my adult life! As the meeting began, I could look out see all over the city, the small cars on the expressway, & the Georgia Tech campus. As the discussion progressed, they were talking about a project which would require the help of thousands of people & millions of dollars! When they talked about putting a fence around the Georgia Tech campus, I thought, "These people are out of their minds!--They can't possibly do what they think they can do!" I had known Tim & Linda most of their lives, and I couldn't believe they were a part of such an improbable project! I told Tim that I didn't have much experience with international basketball, and I didn't see how I could be of any help to them---it was beyond my scope of imagination (as I snickered to myself in disbelief). I went home & told my wife how ridiculous they were. Four of the original 10 members of the committee must have felt the same as I did, as they dropped out of the project. ("Roosters", again?). The other 6 labored on---, Tim & Linda making up 1/3 of the committee, under the direction of some former UGA athlete, Billy Payne. As I look back on those years, I'm sure most everyone agreed with me that those people's dream were "folly". They actually thought they could "bring the world" to Atlanta, Georgia, for the 1996 Olympic Games!! Silly dreams or--"Eagles"??

8/17/14

Through the years we have always tried to give our players the credit and recognition they deserve, in various ways with trips, banquets, & awards such as the Most Valuable Player. There is no doubt, in my 50-year coaching career (or for my entire life), who is the Most Valuable person--my wife, Jan!! If you have read my stories, you already know that we have written about how I fell in love with her when she was only 14, our family, how the death of star player Billy Dean Rutledge influenced my career--& the total commitment she made to enhance my coaching career--& my life--all this, while rearing four children!! In just 3 short weeks, we will celebrate our 60th year of marriage!! On many occasions such as our banquets, sometimes I might not even mention her name, but our players have always been well-aware of her valuable contributions & what she has meant to them. I coached almost 1800 varsity basketball games in my career, & Jan only missed 5 games, while rearing 4 children! I was the head football coach in 215 varsity football games, and Jan only missed one game! If you total the number of varsity basketball & football games I coached, it comes to exactly 2,000 games. Jan missed only 6 of those games, and has had many other responsibilities, not only for the team, but also for her family! Many people have wondered how we have all the information from games, some of which were played well over a half-century ago!! Jan, in addition to keeping the basketball scorebook, took pictures, filmed the football games & assisted the many who helped keep the individual game stats--all while keeping up with her children! The toughest part of all our stats was when we reviewed our game films to make sure that each player's stats were accurate. At the end of the season, Jan would compile a complete set of stats into a booklet which was made available to our players, fans, and others---& we have the stats & other information (pictures, articles, etc.), as the capability improved through the years. (In our earlier years, it was a "nightmare" trying to keep all of this with only a pencil, pad, mimeograph machine, etc.). Some of the later booklets totaled as many as 40 pages, with complete sets of stats. In 2010, our family gave us a special Christmas gift---the website: www.coachronaldmbradley.com, which has much information from all of our football & basketball games. One of our regrets is that we didn't have the opportunity to keep accurate stats for our baseball games, but we do have the team records. One time, a football parent asked why she never saw Jan at any games, and said, "She must not like football." Jan replied, "You're not looking in the RIGHT spot!! Look at the highest point in the stadium & look behind the camera and you'll see me!" The responsibilities Jan has handled throughout my career & my life are so numerous, that I could NEVER give her the proper credit she has earned!! I have received almost every award available to a high school coach, but none is more precious than the words that are on the plaque which hangs at the entrance of the gymnasium (named for me) at Newton County's Turner Lake complex in Covington, Ga. This is a poem written by lifetime-friend, Darrell Huckaby. The first part was written in 1983, and the second part was written in 2011, at the end of my career.
Raw uncut for GPTV interview
GPTV Jan Bradley Interview http://youtu.be/sAcM-w-zW4k
Poem about Jan- written by Darrell Huckaby
http://www.coachronbradley.com/docs/tribute_Jan.pdf
AJC News article about coach and Jan
http://www.coachronbradley.com/Article%20Scans%202_12_12/98(3).pdf
Article by Darrell Huckaby
http://www.coachronbradley.com/articles/notwithoutjan.pdf

8/16/14

Luke, better known as "Bubba" Hill, was one of our most exciting (& colorful) players! His senior year, he led us to a 27-3 record, as our leading scorer (20 ppg), and was the leading rebounder (11 rpg). During the 4 years he was on the team, the Rams won 3 Region Championships, and was the State Runnerup his senior year. Bubba's stellar play helped him be named All-State his senior year, as he was listed #10 in the state's Top 25 Best Players. He was also All-Region 2 years. Later, Bubba said he had never had so much fun in a basketball game as when we beat Carver, (and he scored 37 points). Bubba's "most famous" shot came against Druid Hills when he hit (from behind the mid-court line as time was running out on the clock), giving the a Rams the lead they never relinquished! The next day, sportswriter Bob Greer & Sheriff Henry Odum came to the gym and measured the shot at 55'6"! Mr. Greer said it was the longest shot he had ever seen made in the Newton High gym! After games or practice, our players would undress, go to our laundry room to get a towel, and take a shower. Our bottom dressing room windows were painted, but the top of the windows were so high that they didn't need to be painted. After one game, Bubba went into the dressing room, got a towel, & came out screaming! I ran into the laundry room, thinking he had touched something which had shocked him. Then--I realized that the visiting team's bus was parked outside our dressing room--& one of the mountain girls hung out the window and yelled, "Hey, Coach! Tell #30 we've seen it all!" In one region semi-final game, something happened that is hard to believe. Bubba "walked" toward our team huddle, which was a "No,No", (as our rule was that a player must "hustle" inside the playing court)! I acted instinctively and said, "Bubba, get down at the end of the court and run--until you learn to 'hustle'!" The ball was put in play on the opposite end of the court, but when the ref saw Bubba running, he stopped the game! The referee hustled down to a Bubba & said, "Son, you can't run here during the game!" Bubba pointed at me and said, "If you'll tell that man over there, I'll be glad to stop!" Bubba says that people still recognize him & say, "Weren't you the guy running on the end of the court during the region tournament game??" Bubba's outstanding high school basketball career earned him a 4-year scholarship to LaGrange College, where he scored 1,044 points in his 4-year career! He was honored there by being named to the LaGrange College Sports Hall of Fame (& also, later, one of our other outstanding players, Dr. Todd Whitsitt was also awarded this high honor!). Newton County basketball fans will long remember Luke, better known as "Bubba" for his outstanding play--& his colorful antics!

8/15/14

The final of 4 stories on the 1970 NCHS boys team: After all of the excitement of winning another region championship the week before, assuring themselves of always being known as a "championship team", knowing they would be receiving patches to go on their jackets, the Rams were not satisfied! All of the players had spent their entire lives in Newton County, and had dreams of the day when they, too, would be a part of (& add to), the "Ram tradition"! In earlier years, our team goal was just to win a region championship, but many region titles later, the "bar had been raised" to win a State Championship! Each day at practice, a player couldn't help but notice the 1964 State Championship commemorative plaque on the wall of the gym in the shape of a large basketball, which led to a near-legendary recognition of the team led by Christian, Harris, Smith, Campbell, & Hall! Also, on the opposite wall they would daily see the names of the NCHS All-State players. In the previous three years, they had seen their teammates (Blankenship, Harris, Wilkerson & Schell) added to the list. Our team was told to pack for 5 days, as we prepared to head out to Atlanta. Sheriff Odum was almost in tears, as he wished the boys "good luck", as he would be unable to go due to pressing business in Covington. It was an excited (& confident) team that arrived at the hotel, and their rooms on the 6th floor, overlooking the Ga. Tech Coliseum, were ready for their stay! In the opening game of the state tournament, the Rams defeated LaFayette 69-61 behind Clay Summers' 24 pts., Kevin Price's 17 pts. & 12 rebounds, 16 rebounds by Bubba Hill as he added 12 points, as did Stuart Clive! Next up was Sandy Springs, a team which had hurt us on a couple of occasions--most recently in 1965 when they stopped our 42-game winning streak! With Summers' 24 points, Hill's 20 points, & Clive's 5 steals, the Rams escaped 58-56, & gathered in the middle of the court to hug & celebrate! It's hard to describe the feeling that each player had as they prepared to face the reigning State Champion, Carver. This was basically the same team that had set the state scoring record the year before, averaging 110 ppg! The '70 edition of the Panthers' offense was still lethal, as they were averaging around 100 ppg! The Rams remembered the loss from the previous year (66-61), & it was obvious, in the papers, that Carver had become "the darlings of Atlanta"--& the favorites to win! Carver fully expected Newton Co. to "slow down" the game again, but with Newton's "fire power" they were ready (& willing) to engage in a "fast & furious" game! Before another packed Coliseum, Newton Co. jumped out to a first quarter 24-17 lead. The "deadly duo" of Hill & Summers had worked years for this opportunity--& they were ready, scoring ALL of Newton's 1st qtr. points! Summers was amazing all the fans with his outside shooting, which resulted in 6 goals in 7 attempts! Carver had regained the lead by halftime. The Panther defense on Hill & Summers opened the door for Mickey Dickerson's 16 points & Stuart Clive's 13 points. When the great effort by the Newton lads had ended, their 98-83 win would be recalled as probably one of the biggest upsets in NCHS history! Hill's season-high 37 pts.-12 rebounds, & Summers' 27 pts. guaranteed them All-State status! As we prepared to face the East Rome team (that we had defeated the previous year 57-50), we knew they were very talented, & led by one of the state' top big men. When you win, you don't look back & question "why"-- but, when you lose, you question many things that you wish you could change! There were many things which took place prior to the game, which were beyond my control, & when we arrived at the coliseum, we realized the start of our game had been delayed and our half-time break had been considerably lengthened to allow a late-arriving Lt.Governor of the state to get there for the after-game trophy presentations. As we look back, we realize that we didn't get many breaks in a 67-54 loss that ended a great season-record of 27-3! Even with the loss of seniors Bubba Hill (& his 20pt-11reb apg (& his #10 ranking in the top-25 poll in the state), Dickerson & Walter Sammons, the future looked bright for the Rams!

 

8/14/14

This is our 3rd story on the 1970 NCHS basketball season. Our loss in the Sub-region finals to Burney Harris was only the 2nd loss we had suffered this season. We were alive & getting ready to play what, normally, is the biggest game of the season--the opportunity of getting one of the two coveted spots in the State Tournament! My mind drifted back to several seasons past when, as a young coach, I was not happy with our 29th straight win in a "sudden-death" win over the Cairo "Syrupmakers." I now realize what a great win that was, when I look at the list of State Championships won by Coach Tommy Taylor's 13 state titles with his basketball & track teams. There was enough excitement in school and the town, that it was easy for our players to look forward to the weekend games! Our success of winning 5 of the prior 6 region championships, helped to make our team more confident, and tended to make our opponents realize they had a "mountain to climb"--& play at their peak! (It didn't take long for me to remember when strange things happened to all-state Terry Schell in the semi-finals of the region tournament.) The only things our players were required to do before departing was to tie their shoes together & place them on the floor for us to pack. When we were dressing for the game, Terry realized he had packed 2 left shoes. On another occasion, as we started onto the floor, he told me that we had "taped" the wrong ankle. A little later, on the 1st timeout of the game, he came to me & said, "My man smells!" I replied, "Schell, I didn't send you out there to smell him! I sent you out there to guard him!" In the Region Tournament we normally faced teams from the North Georgia area, & we clipped newspaper articles & box-scores, from various sources, to assist us in our preparations for any possible future opponents. If the sites for the games were a very long distance, we would stay in the area overnight. In the years when we were top-seeded we would choose to wear white (in which we rarely lost), & choose to play an early game which would allow us, hopefully, to have time for a great meal & to relax in preparation for a championship game the next night. On game days, after our pep rally, quite often the cheerleaders & students would have signs put in strategic places on our bus & along our route. After the long wait, it was time to face an outstanding Stephens Co. team! Their defense was geared to slow Bubba Hill down (13pts.), but it didn't stop the long-range "bombing" of Clay Summers, who scored 30 points! It was a game that went back & forth & finally we were able to breathe a sigh of relief with a 63-62 "heart-stopping" win! After the game we realized we had made plans to eat at a restaurant where the Stephens Co. team was also eating. The sad faces & tears of our opponents' and their parents, made our players realize how fortunate they were, to be getting ready to play a Region Championship game & to have "punched their ticket" that assured they would get to play in the Georgia Tech Coliseum! When the news of the outcome of the other semi-final game reached our team, it was no surprise that we would be facing, once again, our nemesis, the strong Burney Harris team. They had extra incentive, as they knew their school would be closing to merge with Athens High. We knew our opponent was an outstanding team as they featured the 2 best guards that a Ram team had ever faced. We felt that we had to guard Terry Green, when he stepped out of the dressing-room, but that left room for the other guard, Horace King, to use his great athletic talent! King went on to be an outstanding running-back at UGA, & played several years in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. Our big championship win of 80-70 was a total team victory! Summers led the way with 26 pts., Hill was outstanding with 19 pts. & 15 rebounds, Walter Sammons had 13 points, & sophomore Kevin Price had 13 rebounds. It was a very happy post-game steak meal & bus ride home as our thoughts turned to Atlanta & the State Tournament! -- to be continued--

8/13/14

1970 season-2nd part:
Tournament time is the most exciting part of the year for a team! Most of our seniors had about 2,000 hours invested in their career, & they'd "paid a price" (time & effort) to have the opportunity to try to prove they are "the best"! (The players think they're playing the game for fun, but the coach knows that the memories will linger on for years!) We could always tell when the big games were approaching, as we would have visitors come by & watch us practice. Sheriff Odum, Mayor Harris, & even the great Don Drysdale, of the world champions LA Dodgers, as he was on the way to Florida for his spring training. You could always count on many students showing up, such as Lassiter, Sam, Roger, Marshall, Tommy, "Foots", & Jerry (all these guys had written poems or stories about the Rams). Many thoughts & memories (positive & negative) would be swirling through our heads--especially for the seniors. Mickey Dickerson would probably remember his dad putting up their first basketball goal for him & Neal to improve their skills. No doubt, Bubba Hill could probably remember tagging along with his older sister JoAnn (a Ram cheerleader), to big games. And Walter would always remember playing basketball in the yard with his dad, E.R., & brother, "Bubba" Sammons. I had to deal with my own emotions as I could easily remember my first varsity team, with only one loss during the season, failing to reach the State Tournament, or the hurt on the faces of our 1966 seniors when we lost in the state finals, or the pain on Jan's & my faces, as we were honored after our 129 straight home court winning streak was stopped. I would never forget how Billy Shaw brought us back from "the brink of defeat" earning us a trip to the state tournament. This triggered one of the all-time great pictures of Michael Rutledge (#21) hugging his dad, Dean, no doubt remembering his brother, Billy Dean. Never would we forget being the State Champion in 1964! We reached the "do or die" time of the year, our practices were light--we wanted fresh legs. Our side goals were soft (& forgiving), so we would practice there to help build confidence. (With the excitement, we had to discourage the 2nd unit from being too aggressive--as they were "fired up", too!). Finally, the "big day" arrived--the Sub-region tournament! After our pre-game meal & the short trip, it was "showtime"! Now we were back to our regular routine--midway through the 3rd qtr. of the game prior to ours, led by our seniors, our players dressed alike in sharp-looking outfits, would walk together to the dressing room, with our fans standing and applauding them! We could always count on our team manager, Darrell Huckaby, to have our uniforms laid out numerically with a package of chewing gum, their shoes on the floor in front of their uniforms, & a pat on the back for each player! This 1970 team opened sub-region play with a 57-44 win over Gainesville, as Clay Summers scored 23 points. Stuart Clive & Kevin Price chipped in 10 pts. each. In the sub-region finals our string of 6 consecutive region titles ended in a 69-63 loss to the talent-laden Burney Harris team of Athens. But--we were still alive--& went home to prepare for the Region Tournament!! (To be continued--)

 

8/12/14

When the 1970 season came around , the Newton Co. tradition was so strong that their fans expected nothing but a big winner! There was a reason for that expectation as our team was averaging 28 wins & 3 losses for the last 11 years, with 7 Region Championships out of the last 9 years. The Rams team had lost (to graduation), All-Staters Thad Blankenship & Tony Harris, and also all-region Jim Gainer & tough Luke Odum. Blankenship, over his career, established himself as one of the all-time local favorites. Tony Harris had graduated too young to even touch his true potential, but was still a terrific player. When we lost outstanding players, it always gave others (who had high hopes & dreams), an opportunity to "step out onto the main stage"! With seniors, the colorful "Bubba" Hill & Mickey Dickerson & Walter Sammons available, we knew we would have great leadership. The junior class would be well-represented by a great-shooting Clay Summers, & one of our quickest players ever, Stuart Clive. One of our most "fundamentally sound" players ever was sophomore 6'4" Kevin Price, and we knew we could count on him to contribute much. There was also an abundance of young talent which kept practices interesting & competitive! The Rams began the season ranked #4 in the state, & Carver-Atlanta was #1 again. The early games convinced me that this was one of our best-shooting teams, and there would be no "backing down" from anyone! Our biggest competition during the season came from Burney Harris, & we defeated them in Athens, 79-76, in a real battle (& in "Death Valley, we defeated them 71-58). We had a scare at Rockdale Co. (58-56), which was coached by former Newton Ram player, Richard Moore. We won our first 13 straight games (including 88-56 thrashing of Winder-Barrow), but when we went to Winder, the Bulldogs, who had been the only team to beat us in a previous 70-game streak, eked out a 59-58 victory, which proved to be the only loss of the regular season. With a 21-1 record entering sub-region play, Newton fans were already planning their vacations around the state tournament dates. -- story to be continued.

 

8/11/14

As we approach the1969 season, we felt that we had another outstanding basketball team that would carry on the Ram tradition. We were returning our outstanding senior center Thad Blankenship, one if the best young guards in the state Bubba Hill, & a young Tony Harris, who had grown six inches in the past year. We had probably one of the toughest schedules we had played in 11 years. In our 3rd game of the season, we lost at Lakeside to a very strong team, the night before Thanksgiving. We scheduled a tough practice for the next morning to show our players that "you don't lose at Newton County!" But when a tired & sleepy Blankenship came into my office & said, "Coach, it's not that we didn't try--those boys were good!", my attitude changed---& we shot around for a few minutes and I wished them a "Happy Thanksgiving"! There wasn't a day that season that we didn't spend some time getting ready for Atlanta's Carver High School! The Carver team was so strong that we felt if we could play with them, we could play with anybody! A part of our practice each day was against 9 players, with chairs on the floor, in order to simulate the quickness and pressure defense of Carver. One of the games that still stands out during the season was when we defeated a strong a Burney Harris team of Athens, & the noise was so loud in the gym that their players were playing with their fingers in their ears! We rolled through the sub-region tournament with double-digit wins over Winder & Burney Harris. In the semi-finals of the region tournament we defeated Hart Co., 77-51, and won the title with a 51-34 victory over Stephens Co. This set the stage for state tournament play as we went in with a 21-4 record, and ranked #5 in the state! In the opening game, we defeated East Rome 57-50, setting up the "game of the year" against Carver, who was ranked #1 in the state and was averaging a "unbelievable" state-record 110 points per game! We had practiced controlling the ball in order to slow down their potent offense, but their pressure defense made it almost impossible to do. This was THE game, on the biggest stage, that a player practices years in which to be a part! The game had received much publicity, was being broadcast state-wide, and with 7,000 people packed into Ga. Tech Coliseum, they actually stopped selling tickets and didn't let anyone in until the Newton Co.-Carver fans exited! (Even though you plan ahead, some things are beyond your control!). Blankenship was still weak from being ill, & when Harris fouled out, Carver squeaked through, 66-61, on their way to the State Championship! Blankenship (21.3ppg&13.4rpg) & Harris (12ppg&14rpg) were named All-State. Four Newton Rams players were named to the All-region team--Blankenship (3rd time), Harris, defensive specialist Jim Gainer, & Bubba Hill (14ppg). The seniors' 4-year record was 107-18, 3 region championships & 4 trips to the state tournament! The NCHS Rams'11-year record was 306 wins, 36 losses, 28 different titles, 7 Region Championships, 1 State Runner-up, & 1 State Championship!

 

8/10/14

This is the last of three stories on the life of Betty Jaynes. I never coached Betty Jaynes--I wish I could have enjoyed having her on my basketball team. As a high school teacher, it was a pleasure to have her in my class, and I saw parts of most of her high school basketball games. For several years she was a major part of my camping staff in athletics at the FHA-FFA Camp---and she was a lifelong friend whom I had always admired. Whenever I spoke to groups, or told my players to "dream", I would always tell them about the "little mill-town girl who soared the heights" which very few "eaglets" could reach! I will always be thankful that I was able to say my "goodbys" publicly to Betty at her funeral, when I spoke before the large numbers of people who had come from all over the country to pay their respects. We are listing a small sampling of some of the tributes that flowed about Betty Jaynes and her remarkable life:
"Betty Jaynes impacted us all! What an amazing woman!"-Coach Freese, U of Maryland
"Thinking of Betty Jaynes & the 35 yrs. that I marveled at her passion & love of the game"-
Coach Auriemma, U.Conn.
"Betty was a pillar on which the game continues to grow & thrive."-Jim Haney, NABC
"Women's basketball would not be the same game it is, without Betty Jaynes"- Coach
Summitt, U of Tennessee
"I have never known college basketball without Betty Jaynes."- Coach McFerrin, U of
Memphis
"Betty was like a mother to me." - Beth Bass, CEO of WBCA
"When you see a women's game on TV, when you see a sell-out crowd at the Final Four,
when you see women's coaches six-figure contracts, these are, in large part, because of
Betty Jaynes!" Darrell Huckaby, teacher, coach, & author
"I feel confident that Betty Jaynes was at the table when every meaningful conversation
took place about 'growing women's basketball'" Coach Andy Landers, UGA
"Our game--and our lives--are better because of you, Betty Jaynes. Your crown in Heaven
awaits!" Coach Butler, U of Florida
"BETTY FAITH--what a perfect name---her faith in us will live on forever!" Coach Ramsey,
Ashland U.
"If there was a Mt. Rushmore of Women's Basketball, Betty Jaynes would surely be on it!"
Coach Barron, U of Maine

8/9/14

This is the 2nd part of the story about Betty Jaynes. As Betty became more "important" throughout the country, she never forgot those people (& things) which were so close to her heart! With all the responsibilities and influence that Betty had, it would have been easy to leave behind the memories of the past. Betty had a special way of making her high school teachers & friends feel that they were part of her career. I'm not sure that Betty ever had a special occasion which she didn't offer me an invitation. She would call from time to time, just to talk, when she had an important decision to make. I still treasure the memories of the opportunity to eat with Betty's "special" group at her favorite restaurant. Jan & I were honored, along with her sister, Peggy, to be with 3 of the top "basketball minds" in the country--Betty, Beth Bass, who succeeded Betty as CEO of the WBCA, & Jackie Bradford (who, in my opinion influenced Georgia High School Basketball more than any other one person). It was a joy for many of us to journey to Milledgeville to see Betty inducted into the Georgia College U. Hall of Fame. Space limits the story of how many honors she received, & the numerous boards on which she served, on behalf of women's basketball. It was an easy choice when she was elected to the Women's Basketball Hall Of Fame in 2000. I'm not sure that I realized the influence that she wielded, and the number of people who held her in high esteem. We were with her in Springfield, Mass., when she was the 2nd woman to be recognized by the National Basketball Hall of Fame by receiving the prestigious James Bunn Award (the other being Pat Summitt). I thought I was in "Basketball Heaven" when all the "greats" in basketball would come into the Hall of Fame, and without exception, would go to Betty Jaynes & give her a hug! I couldn't believe it when two elderly black gentlemen walked in and proved to be Hall of Famers former Globetrotters, Marcus Haynes & "Meadowlark" Lemonds! They came in, & one said to the other, "There's Betty Jaynes! Let's go say hello to her!" It was a very special honor & privilege for me to introduce her when she was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2010, Betty was "roasted" in Covington at the Turner Lake Sports Complex in order to help rebuild her childhood Porter Memorial Gymnasium. Anyone who was "anything" in women's basketball was there! The outpouring of love & support for Betty Jaynes from so many "important" people (Robin Roberts, WSB's Monica Kaufman, UGA's Vince Dooley, legendary Coach Pat Summitt, & most any other important person in women's basketball), and was a fitting tribute to her life contribution to the game of women's basketball! Newton County turned out "en mass" showing their respect & love, for this "little girl" they remembered from a little mill town! The "basketball world" was deeply saddened when Betty Jaynes passed away, after a short illness, in February, 2014! -- Be sure to look here at Darrell Huckaby's poem & article about lifetime friend, Betty Faith Jaynes.

8/8/14

We had a little girl, from the small mill town of Porterdale, named Betty Faith. Her athletic talents were recognized by Coach Billy Crowell, and he tried to get her to play basketball, but her mother (a piano teacher), was afraid she might get hurt. After much discussion with the coach, her parents agreed to allow her to play, and she showed great promise as she performed in junior high school. She went on to an outstanding high school career as she led her undefeated team (in her senior season) to the state finals, and was named to the All-State team! During her stellar college career, she worked with me in our athletic program at the State FFA-FHA Camp. The summer before her senior year, she expressed to me that she wanted to continue to be a pert of the game she loved. One summer day, we were sitting in the shade under the trees, waiting for the volley ball game, which Betty was going to referee. She was real quiet, and I could tell that she was deep in thought about something. Betty then said, "Coach Bradley, do you think I could teach & coach basketball?" I told her that she would never get rich, but that money could not buy the experiences & thrills which she would get in working with young people, watching them as they developed into responsible adults, and helping them turn their hopes & dreams into realities. After several quiet moments, Betty muttered, "I think I'll do that!" After several years of coaching, she was so successful that she became the head women's basketball coach at James Madison University in Virginia. Betty studied & worked hard to become a better coach, and she wanted to join the large college coaches' association. But, she was told that they didn't allow women in that coaches association. Then she said, "All I wanted to do was to learn to be a better coach!" After much prayerful thought, she sought out several prominent college coaches for advice, and decided to go see U. of Tennessee's Pat Summitt. She told Pat that women needed an organization which would help them be better coaches & to promote the women's game. Coach Summitt said, "Betty, what are YOU going to do?" Betty replied, "I am going to quit coaching and help form an organization to promote women's basketball and help make our women & men better coaches!" And that organization (the WBCA) has grown to several thousand members! When you see the sell-out crowds that women's basketball has today, you can know it is mainly the result of this little mill-town girl from Porterdale, Ga., who had a love, passion, and a dream for basketball!! Years later, I had to tell her that I was wrong when I told her that she would never get rich, and that she WAS rich! I said to her, "There are thousands of little girls that may never know your name, but will be able to pursue their basketball dreams because of you, Betty Jaynes, & your efforts!"

8/7/14

The 1986 GWA basketball season began with high expectations (& a lot of confidence) as the Bulldogs were returning all their starters from the '85 Championship team! (They also had gained much experience when they lost in the State Finals in '84.). GWA's only loss, going into the state tournament, was to an out-of-state team in the finals of the Savannah Christmas Classic. GWA swept through the region tournament for their 2nd Region Championship in 3 years! The Bulldog team (& fans) were shocked, when they were upset in a 4-pt. loss to Thomas Jefferson in the 1st round of the State Tournament! GWA finished the season with a 27-2 record (& 73 wins & 7 losses in 3 years). All 5 starters averaged in double figures with 2-time All-stater, Roy Roberts, leading the way with an 18 pt. average. Other starters' averages were Jeff Capes (14 ppg), 2-time All-Region Ken Harrison (11 ppg), Clay Dally (11 pts & 12.5 reb. pg), & Ed Healy, 10 ppg. (as he earned All-region status 4 straight years). This was a special group of athletes, which will always be remembered! The 1987 team was another strong team which had an 18-4 record & won their 3rd Region Championship in 4 years! They were paced by Karl Olsen's 21.5 ppg., & the strong rebounding of Clay Dally's 15.4 rpg. & 19 ppg., (which led to both players being named both All-region & All-state). After sweeping through the region tournament, the Bulldogs lost in the 1st round of the State Tournament. Their 91-11 4-yr. record was the best in the previous 12 years! The boys' 12-year overall basketball record was 243 wins & 61 defeats, while winning 14 various championships, including 5 Region titles, 2 State Championships, & 1 State Runner-up. This year ended my GWA coaching career at 12 years, as we had an opportunity to travel (while Bill was with American Airlines), and needed to take full advantage, while the opportunity to travel was there! I knew I was leaving an enjoyable situation (& a 30-year coaching career), & might not ever coach again--but I realized that It would be necessary, one day, to earn a living, again! We were at peace with our decision, and we were ready for whatever God had in his plans for us!

8/6/14

After the "near miss" in 1984, we were looking forward to the '85 season, even tho' we lost 2 All-state players in Doug Cassiday and Todd Carter. We were returning all of our other key players, & in addition, sophomore Clay Dally, who was recovering from an injury, would be back with us. Not only did we have plenty of talent returning, but another big plus was that all of these players had other family members who had previously been part of our teams. Jeff Capes' dad, Johnny, was on my 1st varsity team & his mom, Peggy, was one of our cheerleaders. His sisters, Sheri & Gigi were on our 1980 state finalist team. Ken Harrison's brother, Stan, was a team member, and also, his dad, Jack, helped us coach football. Roy Roberts' sister, Anne Knox, was on our '80 State Finalist team, & he gained further motivation from his dad, Roy, Sr., who had played on an NCAA National Championship basketball team at the U. of Kentucky. Ed Healy also had a brother, Joe, who had previously been a member of our football teams. Mark Gibbs' dad, Jack, was also a member of my 2 State Finalist baseball teams at NCHS. Clay Dally had a brother, Rob, who averaged 18 ppg (& was MVP his senior year). The George Walton Academy Bulldogs were on a 13-game winning streak with a 20-2 record, & appeared on their way to a region championship! But late in the 2nd qtr., Dally reinjured his leg, & GWA entered the State playoffs as region runner-up. In a big upset, with GWA controlling the ball, they upset favorite Fullington (24-3) 45-37! In the semi-finals, the Bulldogs outlasted Worth Academy, 56-48. On the day of the state finals, the cheerleaders had a big pep rally at the team motel & recognized the players & their parents with gifts. (I had confidence in this team, but I also remembered that in our last 2 state championship games, we had lost on the last shot of each game! ) We controlled the game--then in the 3rd qtr., with a 7-pt. lead--it happened! The power went off & the lights went out! During the time we were in darkness, I wondered of the momentum would shift, but our guys weren't fazed as they won "going away", 55-42, for the State Championship!! Roy Roberts averaged 18 ppg, and was selected as the State's MVP, & Ken Harrison's 14 ppg. earned him All-State honors. This championship team was rewarded with a trip to see the Kentucky H.S. State Tournament in Lexington! While there, they were also treated with tours to some of Kentucky's finest racehorse farms. With all of our players returning, the future looked bright,--but, from experience, I knew there were no guarantees of a repeat!

 

8/5/14

When we began the '83-'84 season at George Walton Academy, little did we realize that this year would be the beginning of a great 4-year run. We were coming off a "so-so" season, & felt that we could have a good season. At the beginning, not many would have predicted that we would have the great season that we had. When the Bulldogs won their first 16 games, word was out that this was one of the better teams in our league! Seniors Doug Cassiday (with an average of 20 pts. & 11 rebounds per game), and Todd Carter (14 pts. & 10 reb. per game), became the ones most opponents feared. But the real secret of the strength of this team was the talented sophomores. Ken Harrison & Ed Healy avgd. better than 8 ppg, and Roy Roberts & Jeff Capes avgd. better than 5 ppg. The Bulldogs swept through the region tournament, & entered the state tournament with a 21-1 record! In the opening game of the state tournament, Doug Cassiday's 21 pts. led the way, as they defeated Worth Academy 62-60. The semi finals were another "cliffhanger" as GWA defeated Barnesville 50-48. With the stage set to finish off a great year, the Bulldogs led 59-58 with 2seconds on the clock! A Georgia Christian player caught the in-bounds pass at the top of the key, and let the shot go! The ball bounced on the back of the rim 3 times, and fell in! With no time on the clock & the game over, GWA finished the season with a heart-breaking loss! Carter & Cassiday were rewarded for their play by being named to the All-State team (to go along with their All-region status). All-region player Ed Healy, & his sophomore teammates, were anxiously awaiting the 1985 season, (& made plans to win their last game of the season with a championship!). The 23-2 record, Region Championship & State Runner-up, made for an outstanding year--but we were 2 seconds (& 3 bounces) away from the coveted State Championship!

 

8/4/14

This is a continuation of our "traveling" story. At Christmas, the boys basketball team would usually "let Coach off" for about 3 days prior to the holiday. On his first day off, he would travel as far as possible to somewhere in Europe (London, Amsterdam. Zurich. Berlin, or some other "far-off" place). He would then tour on the 2nd day, & fly back home on the 3rd day--with a stern warning from me, "You'd better be back by Christmas!!" Years ago when it was safe to do, he would tour Europe during the day while traveling by train at night (to avoid hotel expenses)! On a trip he & our son, Bill, took to the island of Mykonos in Greece, I had to make sure the beach pictures mysteriously disappeared (as some of those poor people on that island couldn't afford clothes!). I was smarter than to go on some of these trips. Many of our trips were spontaneous. I was at my monthly bridge club when the telephone rang. Several of my friends said, "I'll bet that's my husband calling me." I replied, "I KNOW it isn't my husband, because I forgot to tell him where we were playing today!" When the hostess came back, she said, "Jan, Ronald wants to speak to you." I went to the phone, and he said, "I just wanted to let you know that we are going to London tomorrow." That's the way we traveled! Ronald went to Japan, he flew to New Zealand (which is below Australia, in case you forgot your geography), stayed for 4 hours, had his picture made with the statue of Jean Batten (who set several world flying records) outside the airport, which was inscribed, "BORN TO TRAVEL".--( which pretty well could be a description of him (Ronald), except it should read, "Born to coach--and travel!"). We made several trips to Las Vegas. One remarkable trip was with Frank & Betty Christian, our dear lifetime friends. On a venture into the desert one day, we suddenly found ourselves completely surrounded by a herd of wild donkeys! We could plainly see their large teeth and mouths as they "nibbled" at the window, without moving for our car. We sat there for a few minutes, then Frank said, "I think we're 'donkeyed' in!" (It was hilarious and we captured some of it on video!). We finally made it to Canada, we saw Mt.Helens (in Oregon--after the eruption), made a trip to Trinidad, (not all in the same trip--but it sounds like it could have been--the way WE travel!) We visited Bob H. (& his sled dogs which he had trained to run in the Iditarod race), flying over Mt. McKinley 3 times in one day (flying between Prudhoe Bay & back to Anchorage)! We made several trips to Austria--(I could hear our granddaughter, Alicia, singing her role of Maria, everywhere we went!). Ronald had to make 2 different trips to London in order to plan his basketball team's tour of Europe & Russia. He also made a 1-day trip to Maui to go jogging--can you believe that? We made several trips with dear friends, Johnny & Peggy Capes. On one occasion, Peggy & I toured England, Scotland & Wales, while Ronald & Johnny toured Russia, Poland, & Scandinavian countries. When Ronald told me about the first "bathroom stop" in some woods in Russia, I knew we had made a wise decision in not going with them! Our dear friends, the Frank Christians, introduced us to the beautiful beaches in Panama City, Fl. We bought our first beach condo (we didn't even know the meaning of the word back then) in P.C., where they owned one, and we have have owned several since then. On the way to Chicago from London, Ronald came up with the bright idea to catch a 747 to Korea for the Olympics (I went to D.C. to see the grand kids!). One day he was out for a jog, "found" himself running on a track---the Olympic stadium! How that happened, I can't imagine! But that's the way we travel!!!

8/3/14

Recently, a friend wrote us & wanted to know what our daily schedule was like in retirement. We tried to describe our fun-filled days & realized many of you have inquired about our passion for travel. The 1st two times we "retired" was strictly to travel, and several years ago Jan wrote about my "wandering spirit". Today, Jan will post the 1st of 2 stories written a while back. Many, many years ago (before it became Hartsfield-Jackson Airport), we would spend frequent Sunday afternoons at the airport, watching for the occasional planes. We would climb up to the observation deck on top of what was then the terminal, and watch for the plane to come into view & land. We would try to point out the plane to Brenda, and tell her to "look,--see the plane!" (Back then there were probably 4 or 5 flights on a Sunday afternoon.) Ultimately, this must have been a small indication of what was to come later-- our travels! Probably, partially because of our love of travel, this became a Sunday afternoon ritual, which ultimately led to the short-time occupation of two of our children, when Brenda became a flight attendant with Delta Airlines, and before going into coaching, Bill was with American Airlines. This gave us our "wings to the world" and led to Ronald's 1st 2 "retirements" from coaching! One of our first "family vacations" (which was probably the inspiration for Chevy Chase's shows), was a driving trip from Atlanta to the west coast---
(many laughs, and I'm sure, a spanking or two along the way, but a good time). We stayed in Tulsa, OK, (my hometown), for a few days' visit with some family, before we set off on our real venture! We saw the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, were stopped for a while by a flood on the desert--(& we thought it never rained in the desert)--the petrified forest, topped a hill about 3:00 AM, and saw the lights of Las Vegas--all in one day! (We had left the previous morning from NE New Mexico.). That was QUITE a day!! We did make it to the west coast, saw Disneyland, & had a great experience, with many stories (which I won't go into here) coming from that trip. We made several one day trips which are rather unbelievable--flew to San Juan, P.R., to eat black bean soup (& we had left home thinking we were going to Canada, so I dressed warmly for the trip. We ended up not being able to get on the plane, so we flew to Puerto Rico instead--needless to say, I was warm! All we did there was eat black bean soup--but we ate 4 times in 1st Class on our way to & from there! We flew to the west coast with some dear friends, Edgar & Lavinia Wood. When we got to San Francisco, there was no fog (which was unusual for that time of the year), so we decided to take them on a quick tour & to the top of a mountain overlooking the city. It was a crystal-clear night, which,we knew, was not the norm, so we looked around at the beautiful views for a while. While under the Golden Gate Bridge, (we were in Pacific Standard Time, but our bodies were still on Eastern time), Edgar said, "I knew you said that you were going to show us California, but I didn't know you meant all in one night!" We were able to go to Hawaii several times, which was wonderful! Edgar & Lavinia went with us once, & since Edgar was a WWII veteran, he enjoyed seeing Pearl Harbor & the all the sights around Hawaii. (We also had some other great trips with the Woods in their new RV. Edgar would drive around the Covington square, playing "Glory, glory to old Georgia!" Over the loudspeaker before setting off to FB big football games!). We went to England several times, and through some mutual friends, met a wonderful couple who lived there. We stayed with them in their "bungalow" (which has a slightly different connotation in England than it does here), and later they came to see us on a couple of different occasions. ---to be continued in our next story.

8/2/14

This is our 60th story, & I wonder just how many of you have seen all of them. My cousin, Althea Nance, said that it looks like I have found a way to write a book, and that anyone who wants to read it can start anywhere they want. We knew we had a lot of different ways to substantiate them with pictures, videos, audios, stat books (& memories)! We realize that certain parts are more interesting than others, as you read about some of the 126 varsity teams, at 9 schools, during my 50-year coaching career. Today we are going to talk about a "character" who assisted me with our football teams over a 12-year period. Jay Milligan always had a trick to show or a joke to tell, and was never at a loss for words to fit any occasion! He loved our players, and they loved him back! On one of our first days in pads, one of our football players got his thumb caught between two helmets, and it was bleeding heavily, when Jay pulled an injured "fake" thumb (which looked real) from his pocket & said, "That's nothing---look at this!" (Our players seemed more interested in Jay's thumb than they were in our injured player.). One day after practice, Jay was showing a player's mother this "vicious animal" that was in a cage. (Actually it was a ball attached to a bunch of fur, which hung out as he shook the cage.) As they crowded around it, he shook the cage, & the "varmint" popped out as he screamed "watch out!" & the woman actually jumped up on the hood of a car! On another occasion, prior to our game, one of our parents who owned a funeral home, was in a heated discussion with an opponents' fan, when Jay walked up to the fan and said, "You'd better be careful! He's put bigger men than you in the ground!" One day he called my house, all excited, & said, "I was playing golf & had a hole-in-one today!-- (but I had already hit 3 balls in the lake before I got it!)!" In one of our games I had "gotten after" the refs pretty good, when the ref went over to a Coach Milligan & said, "You'd better settle your coach down." Jay replied, "You got him upset--YOU settle him down!" One day, when our twin sons were members of the team, we came home to an ugly sight! We came home one day and our twin sons had shaved, bald heads! We then found out that Jay had acted as a barber and shaved heads, or cut "Mohawks", on most of our players! (This united spirit no doubt helped us defeat a team which had beaten us 31-0 in the previous year!). We were undefeated going into the state championship game. Just before going onto the field, he ripped off his hat & his coat, showing his bald, shaved head, and a shirt that read "I gave my hair because I care!" No doubt, his show of comraderie helped lead to our State Championship win! After our big win, our players shaved the heads of the other coaches! The coaches & their wives were treated to a trip to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Tx. Jay, a Georgia Tech man, was a "real sport" as he (& his wife,Polly), dressed in Red & Black--& entertained us for the entire trip! Years after his "coaching career" ended, Jay found out that he needed heart surgery, & it created many more stories when he was examined head-to-toe by his female cardiologist! (My wife will absolutely NOT let me tell you the great stories he told about what he said to the doctor when she inquired all about his "personal" life as she examined him head-to-toe prior to surgery, and what she told him he could do after surgery. I will say that Jay said to the doctor, "I'm looking forward to the surgery. I haven't been able to do some of those things you described before, & now you tell me I will be able to do them after my surgery!!" When the Milligans pulled up to the hospital the day before surgery, the doctor was coming out of the hospital & after recognizing Jay, pointed to a parking spot. Jay opened the window & said, "I thought I had a successful doctor!-- & here you are, out here parking cars, to make extra money!" There never was another "Jay" in our coaching life!!

 

8/1/14

Lately, my wife has been accusing me of being a "Dr. Zhivago"! He was a physician--& a writer who had written negative articles about the Bolshevik & the Russian revolution. The Russians were planning to kill him, and his lover made him flee for his life! After riding hours on a freight train, he hopped off in about 4 ft. of snow, found an abandoned house with long icicles hanging off the roof, and with no heat or electricity, one night he got up, lit a candle, found a pen & paper, and with trembling hands, said "I've just got to write!" When I get up in the middle of the night with a story to write, my wife calls to me & says, "Dr. Zhivago, you've just got to write!" When I look back at our 19 years' career football record of 130 wins, 69 losses, & 16 ties, 4 Region Championships & one State Championship, I realize how fortunate I was to have outstanding assistant coaches. Many stories came from these men who were so valuable to our success. I remember the night our GWA team was coming back from a big win in deep south Georgia. Billy Crowell was so excited about leaving early the next morning to go to Athens for the UGA-Tennessee football game. Our bus broke down and we didn't get back to school until around 5:00 AM. Coach Crowell said, as he got off the bus, "Coach Bradley, I love ya', but I'll never get on a school bus with you again!"---& he didn't! Two young assistants who started their coaching career with me have done extremely well, but in other sports. Coach Bob Westbrook, after almost 30 years of coaching, is nearing his 600th varsity basketball win. Coach Danny Camp, who started his coaching career with me at Piedmont Academy, has proven in his 16 years as head baseball coach, that he is one of the best! A very special assistant, Dick Lingner, tells a story that I never tire of hearing. He worked as a fireman in Miami, but was studying a book about flying, and was spending all his money on flying lessons. When the other firemen saw Dick coming, they would spread their arms and say, "Here comes 'Zoomie'!" One very old fireman, whose "elevator didn't quite get to the top", would sit in a rocking chair on top of the fire station & say to Dick, "Don't you pay any attention to those guys--you keep on reading your book!" When the day finally came that Dick was fully qualified to fly, and announced he was resigning to accept a pilot's position with a major airline, all the other firemen wanted to borrow his book! Dick was a valuable part of our GWA State Football Championship in the '79-'80 school year! (Dick sure looked funny when the players shaved his head, along with the other coaches, and his airlines Captain's hat fell down over his ears! He says it still thrills him when one of the former players calls him "Coach"! Jack Harrison was an "offensive genius", & loved coaching football more than his law practice. He was the father of Glynn Harrison, the great UGA runner they called "Gliding Glynn". His sons, Stan & Ken, were both outstanding football players & made the All-state team. Ken was also All-
State in basketball in 1985, as he helped lead his team to the State Basketball Championship. Jack often talked to me about his love for his family, and how proud he was to have been given the opportunity to share his life with his family. He always said, "You can't get where you're going unless you remember where you came from, who you are, and what you are, and WHAT you ARE is the only thing you own-- never lose it--& NEVER--EVER surrender!" --- story to be continued tomorrow when we tell about our longest-serving football assistant, "Coach" Jay Milligan, who is "one of a kind"!

7/31/14

Our summers were always blissful as our family spent them at the FFA-FHA camp, where I was the AD for 24 summers! Our family would move to the camp, and our children could roam over the 600 acres under the watchful eyes of out staff & others. They only had to show up at mealtime, which was prepared for all of us by Mr. McAllister. (Mr. "Mac" was responsible for my early coaching raises as he had a direct pipeline to our school superintendent, Mr. "Whit" Richardson). The McAllisters had a daughter Kay, & a son, Kenneth, (who became the physician in charge of infectious diseases of the Army). Jan & I were in San Antonio one year for the NCAA men's basketball Final Four, & Dr. McAllister took us through the Army hospital wards, and our eyes & minds were incapable of understanding all that we were seeing. Our summer camping staff positions were highly desired, and we always had outstanding young people on our staff. FFA-FHA students came from throughout Georgia, staying for periods of 5 or 6 days, under the supervision of their teachers & our staff. Our capacity was approximately 600, with our staff providing all sorts of daily activities & competitions, & at night they were locked in a fenced area that included a large auditorium where our assemblies, dances & bands performed. Late one hot summer night, our girls' staff slipped down to the swimming lake & went "skinny-dipping", and the next day when our lifeguards saw a snake, they decided that wouldn't be a good idea any more. (Later we added a nice swimming Olympics-size swimming pool & only used the lake for fishing.) When our children reached their teen years, Brenda worked in the craft shop, & I had always heard that two should be smarter than one, and I guess that is the reason that Bob& Bill worked at the lake in our skiing/boating program while Brad worked in the hot hayfield, where our skeet & trap shooting was located! One week we had a young camper from Dublin named Karen Lord, who danced to "The Battle of New Orleans" (& made all the boys stop & stare!) No one, at that time, could have realized that this young "eaglet" would later be one of the best teachers a young person could have! I was fortunate to teach with Karen Lord Rutter for part of her 30-yr. career. Karen had no clock for the time she was willing to spend teaching young people. (If you sat in Superior Court Judge Ozburn's courtroom, you would never believe that he was, at one time, our #1 performer on our camp talent shows. He would don a dress & wig & break up our campers with his rendition of "Oh, Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz"). When you have young people on your staff like Perry Haymore, Tim Christian, Bob Richardson, Betty Jaynes, Jane Richardson, Kay "Mac", the Dickerson boys, the Bradley boys (& Brenda), and many others, you are going to have some pranks! We had some of our boys' staff to patrol the grounds at night to keep lonesome boyfriends from entering the camp. One night, the boys got the bright idea to enter the girls staff cottage & gather up all their undergarments, carry them down to the ice house, & freeze them in blocks of ice. The next morning they dumped the blocks of frozen garments on the front porch of the girls' cottage. After we threatened the staff with dismissal, we thought we had ended this caper. On Wednesday nights we always had a staff meeting. Jane R. & other girls on the staff were in charge of refreshments. This provided them a perfect way for them to get even with the boys! On my way to the softball field, I stopped at the building where the refreshments were usually placed by mid-afternoon, & sampled several pieces of fudge they had made. Before I reached the softball fields, an "explosion" took place within me! That night, the girls were overly generous as they passed out fudge to the boys staff members! During the night when the boys staff cottage ran out of toilet tissue, the guys learned what I had already figured, that the girls had put a lot of Ex-lax in the fudge! I could go on & on about why we loved summer camp, but I do want to give much credit to the camp for what our children, as well as many other youngsters, learned there that has stayed with them into adulthood and greatly enriched their lives.

7/30/14

Several years ago we had a player who came from a very prominent family---we had something that turned him on called "basketball"! Jim had a successful high school career as he helped lead our teams to a 4-year record of 107 wins & 18 losses. During this 4-yr. period our teams won 3 Region Championships, 1 State Runner-up, and he was named to the All-Region team, and received the Best Effort award at the team's annual banquet. Jim attended Vanderbilt University, where he was studying to be a physician. During a basketball practice at Vandy, he was stepped on by a teammate. Being fed through a straw, losing weight, he was told he needed to drop his aspirations to be a doctor. Jim stated that he had learned to compete in high school, and would never quit! Many years later, my wife, Jan, and I had a chance to visit with Jim and his family in his palatial home on a coastal island. He had become a very successful cardiologist in Savannah, Ga. As we left his house on a beautiful spring day, I couldn't help but feel that my "investment" of approximately 2,000 hours in Jim's life during his high school career had paid off! But then my thoughts turned to some of our young players who had not met with much success in their lives. The following Sunday in church, I told our story to Sam Gainer, Jim's dad, conveying my mixed feelings about my contribution to his son's life, but also my apparent "failures" with some other young people who had not as yet met much success in their lives. His dad responded, "Coach, you gave all of these young people the same opportunity. Some of them just didn't choose to fly very high."

7/29/14

Jan & I were volunteers at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, when a young man tapped me on the shoulder and told me that he was the brother of one of our former basketball managers named Travis. He proceeded to tell me a story about his brother which I had not yet heard. Travis was a young man who appeared to be an average student. Early in the spring of his senior year, he decided he wanted to do something special with his life. He went to one of his counselors at school and told her he wanted to attend Georgia Tech, as no one from his family had ever gone to college. The counselor laughed at Travis and stated, "With your grades, you can't possibly get into Ga. Tech. You might be able to get in a small trade school." After applying to GT, and committing himself to study & work as never before, he graduated early--with Honors! Travis was offered an opportunity to develop some new ideas with a new gadget called a "computer". After taking advantage of this opportunity, he took his experience & ideas, and formed his own company. A few years later, he sold his company for a large sum of money, and was set, financially, for life. He wanted to give back to young people, and he served for several years on the County Board of Education, including being elected as Chairman of the Board. He and his wife, Rose, have given back to their community in many ways, including establishing & funding scholarships for local students. His high school counselor had not recognized that Travis Collins was "an Eaglet"! (Pictured is Travis & Rose presenting scholarships to worthy students.)

 

7/28/14

In the last story, we told about Newton County's loss to Wills, which ended the national record for home-court wins @ 129 consecutive wins. When one considers that there are approximately 30,000 different H.S. teams playing in the U.S., it is amazing that the record still in the national record-books after 45 years. The closest any team has come to this record was when DeMatha H.S. (of Maryland) streak ended @ 127 straight in 1976. The Rams' streak might have been longer if injuries had not been a factor. Thad Blankenship's 15 ppg. avg., was sorely missed, as he was unable to play, & all-stater Terry Schell, (18 ppg. avg.) & all-region Richard Allen (15 ppg) were hampered by badly sprained ankles. The NCHS loss was only the 2nd home loss in the previous 10 years, but Wills H.S. march to the state finals undefeated proved the win was no fluke! The '68-'69 team, to their credit, came back from this "devastating" loss, to win their last 13 games, including the sub-region & region championships! Even tho' there was much publicity about the home-court streak, the teams never put much extra emphasis on it never really discussed it openly. The main emphasis was to help each player to become the best person (& player) possible! This emphasis was mainly responsible for the Rams only losing 18 regular-season games during the previous 10-yr. period (overall record at that time was 284-31). As a coach, I had great responsibility for their well-being as they, over the 4-year period, would be under my direction for more than 2,000 hours in their 4-yr. h.s.basketball career. I would spend even more time thinking & planning what I could do to help these youngsters to be the best they could be! We had something they wanted--(a burning desire to be a part of our program) and that gave us much leverage with them! I wish every student had the desire to share a love for a positive activity where valuable lessons are learned, under the direction of a dedicated teacher or instructor! We wanted each player to "be special", to gain some experiences that would prepare him/her for the "battles" that were to come in their lives! I knew that "the mighty oak was once a little acorn which stood its ground & wouldn't give up!" When our season ended, I always tried to leave with some positive words--and I asked them to do one thing for me--"One day, when things are going wrong, remember old Coach Bradley & that he tried to teach me to NEVER give up!" I would like to share the "raw" (or un-cut) version of an interview conducted for a GPTV special done several years later on our coaching career. I feel that this interview pretty-well covers many aspects of my career. http://youtu.be/L5ZK3N-p584

7/27/14

The Rams had the nucleus for another great team in 1968 with seniors Terry Schell, Richard Allen, & Phil Shaw. Junior Thad Blankenship had already proven himself as an outstanding player, and the team had a lot of very capable young guys who were threats to break into the starting lineup at any time. South Hall's coach, Don Wade, had brought several good teams to Covington, and had always gone home with a loss. As his 5-0 Viking team prepared for another shot at the Rams' home streak, he was quoted in the Gainesville newspaper as follows: "If you have never attended a game at the cozy Newton Co. Gym, you have neglected your basketball education. The place fills up early with, probably, the most rabid and vocal fans to be found in the state. They start yelling when the doors open and don't stop until they are home, snug in their beds, if then. The ear-splitting atmosphere has shattered more than one good basketball team bent on ending that fantastic streak." South Hall went home, once again, with another loss to the Rams, 66-49. Right before Christmas, neighbor Rockdale Co. & host, Newton Co., played Woodward Academy & Wills H.S. In back-to-back games. The first night Rockdale lost to undefeated Wills 63-55. The Rams defeated Woodward 69-39, for their 129th consecutive home court win, tying the national college home court record held by the U. of Kentucky. Newton was not at full strength as Blankenship was out with an injury & Schell & Allen both had sprained ankles. Even with these injuries, no one thought anybody could beat their Rams in Covington. But Wills, a 6-yr. old Cobb Co. school (10-0 & ranked #2 in the state behind Carver), came in with a very confident, senior-laden, team. (They had already beaten state powers Druid Hills, Wheeler & Osborne). Anyone associated with the "blue and white" were shocked when the game ended---(& so did the 129-game home court winning streak) by a score of 59-41! Wills went on undefeated, to the State Finals, where injuries cost them when their guards hit head-on on the opening tip, and their top guard was taken to the hospital--& Sandy Springs went on to a huge State Championship upset. After winning their next game, the Rams lost on the road to Rockdale Co, (64-61), & Forsyth Co, (54-51). Getting Blankenship back, & inserting sophomore Bubba Hill in the starting lineup, the Rams went on a roll for the rest of the season and won their fifth straight Sub-region Championship. In the Region semi-final game, the Rams won 76-60 over Franklin Co., with Thad Blankenship leading the way with 29 pts. In the Region Championship game, Blankenship's 24 points, & Schell's 21 pts., led the Rams to a win over Forsyth Co., 79-51, for their 6th Region Championship in 8 years! In the State Tournament, the Rams defeated Russell High 50-38, but lost in the 2nd round to Crisp Co. 49-47 in a heartbreaker! Terry Schell was named to the 1968 All-state team and all-region team for the third consecutive year. Thad Blankenship was named to the All-region team for the 2nd straight year, & Richard Allen was named all-region this year. Allen, Schell & Shaw, finished their final year with a 23-4 record and a 4-yr. record of 119 wins & 14 losses. The Rams' 10-yr. record now stood at 284 wins & 31 losses, or a yearly average of 28 wins & 3 losses!
http://www.coachronbradley.com/docs/129straight.pdf Home court winning streak schedule
These are the utube links to the Wills game
1968 Wills 1st reel http://youtu.be/-5xbgarJIlI
1968 Wills 2nd reel http://youtu.be/MoVA7PFsCyg
1968 Wills 3rd reel http://youtu.be/VPSfPypmtwI

7/26/14

To have a good basketball team, it is vital to have good Senior leadership. That leadership can come from an individual, but it helps to have several mature leaders so that they can help recognize any potential problems within the team. We have always felt that the seniors have the most at risk, as this is the last year that they will ever play in high school. Our 1967 team had the fewest number of seniors on any of our eight previous teams. Eddie Hinton was the lone senior available for fall practice, as Gary Wilkerson wouldn't be available to us until after football season. We had some other outstanding players returning as juniors, as Terry Schell, Richard Allen, & Phil Shaw, & sophomore Thad Blankenship, had already shown outstanding promise. In our 6th game of the season, we lost to Griffin High, and then had a 1-point loss at Avondale High right after the Christmas holidays. (Both of these losses were avenged when those teams came to "Death Valley"!) Our only other loss in the regular season occurred at state-ranked Druid Hills High. The Rams entered sub-region play top-
seeded, with an overall record of 25-3. In the sub-region Newton easily defeated Gainesville H.S. & South Hall H.S. by large margins. In the Region semi-finals @ Hart Co., the Rams had a tough game with Franklin Co., but prevailed 47-42, to advance to the championship game! Playing before an overflow (& boisterous) crowd, the Rams seemed on the way to their 8th straight win over Hart Co., as they headed to the dressing room at halftime with a 9-pt. lead. The 2nd half was was an entirely different game, as everything went Hart Co.'s way. The 50-46 loss to the "Bulldogs" ended Newton's string of 3 straight Region Championships! The Rams opened the state tournament with powerful Cairo, who was favored to win the state championship for the 3rd straight year. Knowing Cairo's extremely tough "match-up zone" was very difficult to get a good percentage shot, it required the Rams to be very patient on offense in order to get an open shot. We knew that for us to have any chance to win, it had to be a low-scoring game. (We got another "break", when the Lt. Governor of Georgia, sat next to the "Syrupmakers" coach, Tommy Taylor, during the game.) Underclassmen Terry Schell & Thad Blankenship led the way in scoring, with 17 & 11 pts, respectively. Gary Wilkerson's 17 rebounds were vital in the 45-42 upset against Cairo. Also, this was an early-afternoon game (where most upsets occur due to the unusual time & routines for the teams involved). The Rams' 45-41 loss to Russell High in the quarter-finals ended their season with a 25-5 record. Wilkerson's 16 ppg & 14 rebounds per game, helped earn him All-state status for the 2nd year in a row. Schell , who was named All-Region (for the 2nd time) & Allen, each averaged 13 ppg. With Blankenship's 9 points & 8.4 rebounds per game average, the next season was already looking promising with those three returning. Seniors Wilkerson & Hinton finished their career with a 4-yr. record of 131-11, 12 overall championships including 3 Region titles, 4 sub-region titles, one State Championship & one State Runnerup! They also helped extend the home court winning streak to 123 consecutive wins. The Rams' 9-year record is now 261 wins & 27 losses, which makes an average yearly record of 29 wins & 3 losses!

7/25/14

We were about to enter the ninth year of our great run, and very few schools had ever matched our 8-year average of 29 wins & only 3 defeats a year( 232 wins and 22 losses). With 108 straight home court wins, the Rams were often in the newspapers, on TV, & local radio station WGFS & Bill Hoffman, covered us extensively. Our team was loved by the "home folks", but a lot of people were tired of getting beat--& hearing about it. Some poor loser, with a lot of clout, "sic'd" the state fire marshals on us, & the state officials told Mr. Sharp that he must count the seats on each row & limit the crowds. Mr. Sharp replied, "Then you must come down here & help me keep people out!" In order to assure admittance for our fans, we sold seasonal reserved seats that guaranteed our fans' admittance to sold-out games. When an opposing fan was told that the game was sold out, and he saw one of our season-ticket holders enter the gym, it caused hard feelings. One Sunday, in our Sunday School class, we had a guest speaker, and his first words were, "I need to ask forgiveness! There is a man here whom I have hated for years, along with his team. After each game that Newton played, my wife and I would get up the next morning & check the newspapers for scores, hoping that Newton had gotten beat! His teams have caused my son & my family a lot of heartache." I was shocked, as you don't expect to hear this in a Sunday school class! We realized that if our games were that important to other people, then they certainly should be important to us! Our players were treated "royally" by the people in our community. The Mason brothers were our barbers & gave free haircuts to all our players (as long as they were "crewcuts"). (There were times that the players, much to their dismay, were sent back for more hair to be cut.). Drs. Maloney & Capes were very generous to our players' dental needs. Any of our guys needing glasses or contact lens knew to go to our great fans, Drs. Griffin or Dobbs. Pharmacy owner Dr. Hardeman took care of our medical supplies, vitamins, chewing gum, etc. Just to name a few of the important positions that were filled at one time or another by former players or super fans, Sheriff Odum, Mayor Harris, Mayor Dobbs, Police Chief Cotton, Clerk of Court Hays, Ordinary Baker, Judge Ozburn & many others. Prior to many of our long trips, the cheerleaders would decorate tables where the team would sit & eat their pre-game steak meals. (Some of the players wondered what the other students thought as they were eating peanutbutter sandwiches). With the large profits coming from our games, Mr. Sharp set up a savings account at the bank for any future large purchases for basketball. With the potential for volatility at our games, our players were instructed to leave the court immediately after the games to avoid problems. I would always wait until our players were off the floor to leave the court, (but sometimes this wasn't early enough!). It is hard to believe some of the precautions Sheriff Odum needed to take, in order to protect our players. Emotions ran unusually high for our games as our Rams didn't "sneak up" on anybody! Our opponents were usually ready for us--& we tried to be ready for them!

7/24/14

Through the years there was a lot of publicity about the Newton Co. basketball program, it's tradition, & "Death Valley". When Randy Henderson & his parents moved to Covington, they went out to eat at "The Buck-&-Kid" restaurant. They noticed that the town was very quiet, and there there was hardly anyone else in the restaurant. When Mr. Henderson asked the waitress where everyone was, she replied, "Don't you know? The Rams are playing--& everybody in this county goes to their games!" Randy thought, "What's so big about a high school basketball game--but the first time I saw them play, I was hooked as a fan, and wanted to be a part of the excitement!" (Later, in 1976 when I was coaching @ GWA, he helped lead our team to a state title as he averaged 16 pts. & 14 rebounds a game.) Former Ram 2-time All-State player, Wayne Hall, had been telling his college teammate, Ron Riley, stories about the Rams' tradition. Ron couldn't understand why they had to go so early in the afternoon to make sure they could get into the games. He thought it unusual for such a large crowd to be there for the JV boys game. Everything seemed normal to him until late in the 3rd qtr. of the girls game, when there was a large roar from the crowd & everyone stood, and the referees even stopped the girls game for the noise & distraction. Then he noticed a long line of young men dressed in Navy blue blazers, ties alike, gray slacks, and they seemed to all have the same "crew cut" hair. As they walked around the court going to the dressing room, I noticed some of the opposing girl players were holding their ears because of the loud noise, & some of the NCHS girls team were even clapping for the guys. When the boys team disappeared down the steps to their dressing room, the applause stopped, and the girls game resumed. In 1971, senior Stuart Clive, who was an outstanding player for some of our championship teams, wrote me a letter expressing his thoughts on "being a champion". He wrote "Champions are not natural-born, they are made from much long and hard work. Success is not free, you must pay the price to achieve it. There is more to a winner than being in great physical condition--a winner owns a high character. This character is proven in the clutch situations. The weak give up and accept defeat, while the strong accept the challenge and go on to victory. A good competitor can only accept defeat if he knows he has done his absolute best! These fundamentals are true not only in athletics, but in the game of life!"

7/23/14

When I first started coaching @ Newton Co., I thought I just "had a job". Soon, things happened to let me know that I had something that was "more" than just a job. I started out with 5 Civics classes a day, and I had a student in one of my classes that didn't appear to me to be very smart--and I wondered what would happen to a student like that. One day I borrowed a truck to go & get some furniture that a friend was going to loan us for our little apartment, and the truck broke down right in the middle of the highway! I was helpless in mechanical areas, and was stranded, when a car pulled alongside, and the driver--this weak student, offered to assist me. Within a matter of minutes, the truck was running again, & I was on my way to Atlanta! Along the way, I couldn't help to think about how "dumb" I was, and how brilliant that young student was! That experience helped me to realize that every person has a worth--and it was my job as a teacher and a coach, to help them realize their worth. On one of our early trips with our team, from the time we got off the bus at the opponents' gym & their coach met me, he began to rant & rave about how he "hated his job" and could hardly wait until he "got rid of those brats!" I remember praying, "Lord, please don't ever let me get to the point that I don't want to work with young people!"--and if you read the previous post about Billy Dean's death, you'll remember about Jan's comment during his funeral, "I'll never complain again about the time you spend with young people"--a vow she lived up to during the rest of my 50-year career! I like to feel that I was working with young "eaglets"-- and I wanted to help them reach their full potential. I didn't want them to stop dreaming, I wanted them to "soar"! Now we had to set out to make our program something really special. Every school has some advantages, as well as some disadvantages, and you try to overcome the negatives--and make the positives a part of the tradition. In our early years, I convinced our principal that I wanted to give out free passes to our games to prominent people of the community, knowing that it would influence others to think our games were important enough to attend. Soon, they were glad to be able to buy tickets to our games. We tried to provide, in a first-class way, every thing our players needed--except their desire & effort--to be successful. I had a washing machine, but no dryer. We had pipes running through our dressing room on which I would hang practice uniforms for them to dry. When I pulled them off, it was like they were starched. One day, Jimmy Gardner ("the chicken-dance man" who meant so much to our program) was in our dressing-room and noticed that we needed a dryer. He went downtown--& pretty soon, we had a new dryer & didn't have to use the pipes any more! At that time, the Covington News didn't have adequate personnel to cover all our games, and Jan wrote articles about our games for them to publish. The articles written by Jan never said anything bad about the coach (except when we occasionally lost). The next "bright idea" Jan had was to take a lot of pictures which were used for game-action photos for the paper to publish. After a short period of time, all this changed when the local paper began sending Bob Greer & photographers to our games. When Mr. Walker Harris established our first basketball Booster Club, we were on our way! With our outstanding young people and a supportive fan base, we were beginning to establish a 1st-Class program with a great basketball tradition! In the next post, we will continue our story.

7/22/14

n life, many times we are so "busy" living that we don't take time to recognize some of the people who touch our lives in such meaningful ways. Later in life, we come to realize how they impacted our lives so much more than we were aware of at the time. One of these such people was Mr. Homer F. Sharp, Sr. My first recollection of him came in the spring of 1957, as I was preparing to graduate from UGA with a degree in Education. As I had been involved in athletics all my life, it was only natural that I, upon finishing college, had a strong desire to coach high school athletes. My first interview for a coaching position brought me to Newton County High School in Covington, Ga. I entered Mr. Sharp's office with all the confidence and aplomb with one who is about to graduate from college is endowed. Mr. Sharp greeted me in his most gracious manner, treated me with much respect, and appeared to have confidence that I could perform the duties of the position of a teacher and basketball coach, because he gave me my first job based upon that interview. Of course, later I learned that I had not known quite as much as I thought I did at the time, (but he never let on that he knew I didn't). I learned many valuable lessons from this man, who was to be my "boss" for the next 16 years. One thing which stands out in my mind is the practice that he had of never talking to an upset or irate parent without first giving that person time to "cool off". He tried to make it a policy that he would not meet with them immediately after their arrival to his office, and usually by the time he saw them, they had realized that their child was probably wrong, and the teacher (or administrator) did deserve the backing of the parent. Mr. Sharp was one of the best "school men" for whom to work. No, rather I should say, "WITH" whom to work! He always made you feel that he was right along with you, rather than above you. He was highly respected by all his faculty members and, although everyone knew that he was "the boss", because of his relationship with his faculty, he was able to surround himself with high caliber people. Students have never had a more kind & loving principal than Mr. Sharp. They always knew him to be fair and just, and always ready with an understanding ear. When some breach of conduct occurred, they knew they could count on deserved punishment, but they also knew the it would be meted out with love and concern. By the time I became a part of the Newton County High School staff, in the fall of 1957, it was obvious that the community had learned to pull together in the support of their high school. School spirit was good and NCHS was highly respected in all areas. Basketball was gaining in popularity, and in 1959, the Rams were beginning to establish themselves as a power. By the mid-60's the newspapers were full of the Beatles, the hippies, Vietnam Nam,--& the Newton County Rams. During this time, basketball fever was at an all-time high, & Mr. Sharp was having difficulty in keeping everyone happy as each basketball game was a sellout, with the doors being locked and chained before game-time, because of the tremendous crowds. He was met with severe pressure and criticism from the home fans, the fire marshals, the opposing fans, & even Mrs. Sharp, who thought everyone had "gone crazy". One of the favorite recollections of the State Championship team of 1964, came after the Region Championship game in Hartwell, when Mr. Sharp donned a "Beatle wig" in celebration of the championship! The boys knew then that he was really one of them, and loved it with them, instead of just "putting up with" them and their success. He always had time for youngsters, and was always ready to show off to them his horses, barn, and his prized chickens. They loved it (& so did he)! One day our son, Brad (then about 3 years old), ran up to Mr. Sharp at church & said, "Hi Mr. Sharp! How's Mrs. Sharp--& the chickens??" Thank goodness, he asked about Mrs. Sharp before he asked about the chickens! The life & examples set forth by this man have had a profound effect on the lives of many, many young people through the years. I wish that today's students could have the experience of having known Mr. Sharp as a principal and friend, and that today's teachers could have had the benefit of his wisdom!

7/21/14

There is no way to measure the impact that Walker & Cora Harris had on my coaching career! Walker was a very successful Chrysler dealership owner, and also was the mayor of Covington, Ga. The two main ways that Walker & Cora helped me was the support they gave their sons, Stanley & Tony, to be a major part of our basketball program! All Stan & Tony did in a total of eight years of play was help win 232 games, while losing only 27, winning 25 different championships, including 6 Region titles, a State Championship, a State Runner-up, & numerous individual honors! (I won't even attempt to cover here, the story of Tony & his wife, Donna, & how they bought a house & moved to Loganville, in order for their daughters, Katie, Lucy, & Laney, to play for our son, Coach Bill Bradley, who coached The girls' basketball & softball teams at LHS.). Recently Stan's lifetime friend, Tim Hopkins, who was once an all-star catcher for me on our championship baseball teams, was expressing to me how much we all miss Stan Harris! When Tim sent me his thoughts on his close friend, Stan, I said "Wow!"--& I can't improve on what he wrote, so with his permission, I am sharing some of his memories of Stan:
"Many people remember Stan as a standout basketball star for NCHS in the mid-60's, but before he decided to concentrate on basketball in high school he was also an outstanding 1st-baseman in the Newton Co. Little League program with Jimmy Gardner's Covington Braves. He later starred at 1st base for Buddy Baker's Covington Mills Pony League team. Stan was also a great "tag football" player, in what we called the "Leaf Bowl" on the side-
yard of his house on Floyd St. In Covington. As much as he loved all sports, Stan loved music as well! His favorite band was the Beach Boys, and he knew virtually every lyric to each of their songs. Every time they appeared in Atlanta, we would be there, mostly at the old city auditorium. Stan also loved the Beatles and we were there for their show at old Atlanta-Fulton Co. Stadium in the mid-60's! If it was music in the '60's & '70's, Stan knew the title, the artist(s) & probably the words. With the family being in the automobile business, Stan also loved cars and NASCAR. We made it to a number of the racing events over the years such as Atlanta Motor Speedway, Talladega Raceway and best of all, Daytona! Stan loved the Daytona Firecracker 400 and he loved Daytona Beach! We had some really great times in Daytona where the Harris' owned a nice beach condominium. There are also memories from Atlanta Cracker games (best vanilla custard ever), the Atlanta Braves & Falcons, & UGA. I will never forget the time that Stan, I, Becky, & a friend of Becky's, visited Becky's parents at Ft. Lee at Petersburg, Va. What a blast that was! Stan liked to give friends nicknames and many of the stuck, many of me friends didn't know my real nam was Tim rather than Sam. My 9th grade home room teacher even had my name as "Sam" Hopkins on my report card! Stan was tall and slender, but boy, could he put away the food! Growing up, his favorite food was old-fashioned southern home cooking. When Stan & Becky got married, she developed into quite a good cook! It was a real treat that she cooked. We also liked to hit the "catfish restaurants" in the area, with our favorite being Louis Lang's place on Jackson Lake. They had the best hushpuppies you ever tasted. Stan was also good for a few "pranks" from time to time. One that stands out in my mind was when we were at Middle Georgia College. The student population was starting to grow due to so many baby boomers hitting college campuses. This caused us to have 3 guys to a dorm room for a while. Stan & I had a roommate by the name of Leon from Smyrna, whose last name I can't recall. He, unlike Stan & I, was an early riser. During winter quarter when it was still dark in the early morning hours, he would get up, shower & head over to the dining room across campus for breakfast before his 1st period class. Stan decided we would have a little fun with him by setting his alarm clock ahead a few hours. This required a sacrifice on our part to wake up earlier than normal, but it was worth it when he got just outside the dorm and saw a campus clock showing about 2:00 AM. We went back to sleep laughing! Even after Stan & Becky married, we lived in the same apartment building in Athens & included Becky as a part of Stan in our activities. When you were friends with Stan, you were friends for life! Even as we grew older and didn't see each other as much, it was like a day hadn't gone by and we were young again. Once Becky came into his life, it was the same times ten! Those two were totally devoted to each other. I doubt you could find anyone who was family, friend, classmate, teammate, or just an acquaintance who would have anything bad to say about Stan. He was a prince of a guy and he left us way too early. However, he left us lots of fond memories to savor."

Article about Walker Harris
Article about Laney and Lucy

 

 

7/20/14

When I worked with a youngster, I tried to keep in mind that I was blessed to have the opportunity to teach the most important thing parents have, their child. A young student had to "want" to play to be a part of our program. I couldn't "make" them play basketball, but once they committed, it gave me much leverage with them. We told them that we couldn't make them a bit better than they wanted to be! They were going to give up one of the most important things they have in life--their time. We approached teaching the skills as if we were putting a puzzle together. There are many little parts or little skills, which might not seem important, but if they didn't learn to do them right it lessened their chance to be successful. "Good habits make good players"! I remember one time we were explaining our expectations for the players when one of the candidates went over to one of the assistants and said, "Why are we wasting our time? We already know how to play!" He really didn't know how to play the way we play, or the desire to learn the "right" way, and he disappeared shortly thereafter. There were always students walking the halls that had more talent than some of our players, but they weren't willing to "pay the price" to be a part of our team. I felt that I had the responsibility to teach them some more important things than how to shoot, throw or kick a ball. Many of our teachers & coaches drop out of the profession in their first year on the job. This is sad, as they never give themselves a chance to see the final product of their efforts. It is like planting an apple tree, rushing out the next day to see if it has produced fruit, then giving up & cutting the tree down because it is not productive. I like to tell a story to illustrate how I see the youngsters that I teach and coach--
A young boy was walking down a road one day & saw a little bird. Realizing that it was
lost from its mother & its nest, he picked up the bird. Wanting to help the little bird, he
thought about putting it in a tree or hiding it under a bush, but he realized something
would probably find the bird & eat it or hurt it. He decided to take the little bird home &
put it in a pen with his chickens. After several days & weeks had passed, the little bird was
looking up at a beautiful eagle soaring high in the sky above his pen. About this time, an
old rooster ambled over to him, bumped him with his knee & said, "whatcha doin?" (we all
have some "roosters" in our lives.). The old rooster said, "Quit that dreamin'! You won't
ever be anything but a chicken like the rest of us!" The sad thing was, the little bird really
was an eaglet, and all he needed to do was to spread his wings & try!
The analogy to be found in this story is that many of our youngsters are "eaglets", & many never realize it!

 

7/19/14

When the 1966 basketball season began, there was a lot of excitement as the fans & the team knew there would be an opportunity to break the national high school home court winning streak record. The present record was 99 straight wins, held by Pennsylvania's Farrell High School (1949-1956). The record was not much of a topic of conversation by our teams, as they were more concerned about having a great year. That attitude, along with fundamentals & discipline, had helped them to only lose 10 regular-season games in the previous 7 years (the actual total record of those 7 years was 199 wins & 17 losses, with 10 of those losses coming in post-season tournament play)! With this outstanding record, it was hard to get many teams who were willing to play us. But, as "the streak" gained statewide (& even national) attention, stronger (& even out-of-state) teams wanted to take a shot at breaking the record. The many rumors circulating about the Rams' home court tended to hurt the visiting teams' attitude more than it helped them. (These rumors only strengthened the Rams' position, as they were obviously strong enough not only to win at home, but on the road, also.) Some of the "tall tales" blamed Coach Bradley for keeping the gym extremely hot, when it was actually the overflow crowds that created the heat in the gym. When the fans got hot, they wanted the windows opened (I didn't). There were those that claimed that the visiting dressing room was too hot--but we didn't want them to get cold. Some said their was only one lightbulb in the visitors dressing room, (but that wasn't true--there were 2)! There was a tale that one night when the Rams were trailing, the sheriff who always stood against the wall near the front door, turned off the lights. (That was ridiculous, as they went off that time by themselves!). The Henry Co. basketball coach, Chuck Miller, who often attended Newton's basketball games, was standing by Sheriff Odum, & claims he heard the following conversation during a timeout when he called the referees out & pointed to the steps leading to an outside door & said: "Thanks to your incompetence, there is a chance that we might lose--& if we do, you run toward those stairs, & I'll try to get you out alive!" Chuck claims that the Rams had everything go their way from then on---& they won the game! (Probably no one wanted to beat the Rams more than the Griffin High coach.). One year, the Griffin coach wanted to play his home game @ NCHS (after we beat them earlier in the year), but his principal wouldn't let him. As we were approaching the high school record we beat Griffin again, and after the game, I went to check on the visitors' dressing room steps, & the coach was sitting on the steps crying, & no doubt, his strong will to win fueled his desire--and he had a very successful college coaching career. During this time I received many letters wanting & planning to beat us, (especially by Griffin's Bill Haisten). The game that tied the National H.S. record was a 56-55 win over a Athens High. Gary Wilkerson scored 15 pts., & had 10 rebounds; Wayne Hall had 12 pts. & we needed every one of Steve Smith's 7 points! We actually gave Athens High 4 points, but still, the game was quite controversial. In the 3rd qtr. one of our players became confused & shot at the wrong goal! He missed, but got a nice rebound--& was successful on his next try. Near the end of the game, clinging to a 3-pt. lead, we gave Athens the last basket on the buzzer. The game that led to the National High School Home Court Winning Streak record was never close, as we defeated Rockdale County 68-40. Wayne Hall led the way with 24 pts. & Bob Richardson scored 16 pts. & had 7 steals. And now on the Rams fans' minds was the national college home court winning streak of 129 straight which was held by the Kentucky Wildcats.

 

7/18/14

When the curtain opened on the 1966 season, our team & fans knew they had a lot to live up to. The loss in the last year's state tournament stopped a 42-game winning streak, and was only the 2nd loss in 71 games. The Rams had lost some outstanding talent but returned 3 seniors, Wayne Hall, Bob Richardson, Steve Smith, juniors Gary Wilkerson, Eddie Hinton, & sophomores Terry Schell & Richard Allen. All the Newton Co. fans knew that these guys were very talented, fundamentally sound & well-disciplined. With 4 Region Championships in the previous 5 years, a '64 State Championship, the Rams' tradition created high expectations. When Wayne Hall (who was an all-state & 2-time all region player) went down early in the season with a sprained ankle, it presented problems. The Rams lost 2 games before Hall returned. With Richardson scoring 18.4 ppg, Wilkerson with 10 ppg. & 12.5 rebounds pg, and Schell averaging 10 ppg., the team soared with Wayne Hall's return & won 19 straight! The streak was stopped in the last game of the regular season at Chamblee HS. The Rams stormed through the sub-region tournament at home & headed back to South Hall's gym to face a familiar rival, Winder. NCHS won 50-47 over Winder to reach the finals (& familiar foe, Hart Co.) in a great game before a turn-away crowd. The Rams won 69-63. In the state tournament the Rams had two close victories over Hapeville & Crisp Co. Now they were to face the #1 team in the state, Troup Co. who had a 31-1 record (& we were 32-3). In a great game before a packed house at the Georgia Tech coliseum, the Rams won in overtime, 57-55! Here we were, nearing our opportunity to win a second State Championship in three years! We were living good! We were staying in a new hotel across the expressway from the Ga. Tech coliseum & all of our guys had rooms overlooking the coliseum. We were preparing to face the defending state champs, the Cairo Syrupmakers (28-3), who were coached by one of the finest coaches, anywhere. Coach Tommy Taylor had coached his players all through grammar school in his recreation league, and now he had his senior-led team ready for their 2nd straight title run! In a great ball game, we lost in the finals, 55-46. All the Cairo starters were outstanding players & received college scholarships. One of their "wings", Burt Maxwell, went 8 for 8 from the field (& never missed a shot), & we fell 55-46. As I look back on that game, I feel that I may have "paralyzed by analyzing" all the myriad of offenses that the Syrupmakers had in their arsenal. I also made a mistake when I gave a copy of the film to Coach Taylor. The film was shown on TV stations in South Georgia, and that was a "no-no" in the GHSA rules. Our seniors' year came to an end with the best 4-year average of wins (33 per year), & is not likely to be broken under present GHSA rules. The record of 131 wins & only 9 losses was the best 4-year record in the 8-year run of 232 wins, 22 losses, & 5 Region Championships in 6 years. The Rams' home-court unbeaten streak was extended to 108 consecutive wins, creating statewide interest & was even being noticed nationally.

 

 

7/17/14

Our 3rd year @ Loganville HS (as we finished the season with our boys' basketball record of 22-4, had won the Jefferson Inv. & the sub-region championships) & it was that spring that I received the most prestigious award to date, my induction into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame! We knew that we would probably never again receive better support than in Loganville, but a change was necessary in order to meet our retirement needs. In the spring, Mr. Johnny Smith, the headmaster of Piedmont Academy in Monticello, Ga., called, needing a coach/AD to be responsible for their athletic program. I took the job (with a 2-year agreement), knowing that if we lived on our state teachers' retirement, we could take our other income & pay back a loan we had for our teacher retirement. Our most exciting team there was our '98 girls basketball team that had a record of 25-3 & were Region Champs. We were led by Amanda Tyler, 24 ppg., Caroline Crawley, Jami Smith, & Rebecca Evans, 12.3ppg. Our boys team's biggest excitement was created by Tommy Yancey who averaged 24 ppg. My head assistant, Danny Camp (who was in his first year of coaching), was one of the finest baseball coaches around. His dedication & effort toward his program & baseball field, led to his successful 16 years there. When UPS flew in their crew from Canada to do a segment on me on the subject of "Attaining Excellence", it created a lot of excitement in the school for a couple of days. I had a friend in Monticello that I had visited with through the years, who was president of the local bank. Jack & his wife, Gwen, had always been supportive of the neighborhood school. Even though, in earlier years, their daughter had played against our teams, I didn't know her story until I was "surrounded" by it. When she was in the 8th grade, she broke her ankle & was quite depressed. Her father wanted to cheer her up, & purchased her a guitar, as she had always loved music. Every night she slept under a sign on the wall in her bedroom, "Don't EVER give up on your dream!" When she graduated from H.S. (as Valedictorian), she attended college for a while, but her heart wasn't really in it. One day she told her parents she had something else in mind and said, "I want to go to Nashville, get a job as a secretary, and be around music. (She already knew she wanted to pursue her dream!). Her mom was afraid harm would come to her daughter & said "NO" to her plans. She then "paralyzed" her mom when she replied, "Mom, you've always said I could do anything I wanted to do!" With that, (& her parents' trepidation & blessings), she set off. In the country music capital of the world, where many young singers' dreams die, she faced, what most people consider, unbelievable odds. She got a job as a secretary, & was always ready & available to sing at every opportunity. She met a new friend. One evening she told him if she ever made it in music, she would let him sing "lead in" for her. This young man enthusiastically offered to do the same for her! Well, this young girl, who had what appeared to be such an "impossible dream", had a goal & never waivered from it! And if you ever hear or see the great Trisha Yearwood sing or perform, you'll know she NEVER gave up on her dream! By the way, the other guy did pretty well, too. His name is Garth---(yes, that Garth Brooks)!

 

7/16/14

Each year I always tried to meet the families of any new players. If a player was in our program for four years, we had figured out that he would be under our direction for about 2000 hours. When you work with a youngster in competitive sports, there is going to be a lot of emotion--a lot of "highs" & "lows", & sometimes there's not much time in between them. With the amount of thought, effort, & time I would spend with their child, we would be like "Branch Kin" (as the "old saying" goes). One of the first days at GWA I found myself visiting a family who had a beautiful home in the middle of a pecan orchard. This was the place that I had read about that the famous coach, Norm VanBrocklin, built when the Atlanta Falcons told him he would be their coach for life and he built his dream home in the middle of the most expensive piece of land in Walton County. I knocked on the door & met Coach & his wife, who was an artist, and I told him I would be coaching their son, Allen, & daughter, Shelley. I told him I would be coaching football and I would like to have any suggestions or help from him that he wanted to give. Now, here was a famous man who was a Hall of Fame player & NFL coach, who had been fired several months earlier, had lost his income, had no hospitalization, & knew nothing about farming--& he knew that, for a man of his stature, there was no job suitable for him in downtown Social Circle. (I could tell that his concerns were bigger than conversing with some little old high school coach.). I never spoke with him again for the next year, but I noticed that he usually sat way off by himself watching his son (& later, his daughter) play. Then one day about a year later, he came by & said, "Let's talk!"
I could tell that he was still hurting & he wanted someone he could trust that didn't want to take advantage of him, and he let me into his very private world. On subsequent visits, he would tell me stories about his playing days with the LA Rams & the sharing QB duties with Hall of Famer Bob Waterfield, who was married to actress, Jane Russell. He told me many stories about being with Jane, and an upcoming young star, Marilyn Monroe. One day Coach VanBrocklin told me the story about Waterfield being injured and he (Norm) played the whole game & threw for a record 554 yards passing vs. the New York Giants-- and that record still stands today! As time passed, he became a real "part of the GWA family", helping cook, washing dishes, etc., at school functions. The only time he ever came into our dressing room was the night our son, Bill, with fluid on his knee, broke the school basketball scoring record with 48 points. He grabbed Bill by the neck & said "Bill, the swelling on your knee went down, didn't it?" One day I received a call to inform me that Coach VanBrocklin was in the hospital with a brain tumor and not expected to survive. After surgery, he reportedly said, "I received a brain transplant & it had never been used. It belonged to an Atlanta sportswriter." I went by the hospital & Coach VanBrocklin was very emotional. With a tear-stained face he told me that Georgia Tech's Pepper Rogers had come by the hospital that morning and signed him to a football coaching contract at Tech. Pepper said to him, "I heard you don't have any hospitalization insurance to pay the bills, & you've done a lot for football---& now football is going to do something for you!" I find it ironic that Bob Waterfield died & less than 2 months later, in May of 1983, Norm VanBrocklin died. Coach VanBrocklin had always said he wanted a happy funeral. Almost everybody that was "anybody" in professional football, came to pay their respects to one of the all-time greats!
There was a jazz band barbecue, all the adult beverages one can think of, and also on display was his memorabilia, including his Hall of Fame rings. The part that I will always remember about his funeral was when Mrs. VanBrocklin told that his body was cremated and his ashes were going to be spread in his favorite Oregon fishing hole, the Rogue River. Immediately after her statement, former Georgia Tech basketball player Josh Powell, in his deep bass voice sang "Ol' Man River"!

 

 

7/15/14

I have always encouraged our young students to "dream as far as they can see! And, if you reach that dream, get a new dream!" DREAMS FUEL DESIRE!! Sometimes, as teachers, we limit youngsters by what WE can do, and not what God has intended for them to be! Our son, Bob, who was a successful coach in high school for 17 years, saw an "impossible dream come to fruition in the little town of Sandersville, Ga. There was a young boy named Michael Brooker, who had a dream to one day play basketball at North Carolina for the "Tar Heels"! At a very early age, very seldom did anyone see him without a basketball in his hand. He would often dribble 2 balls to town & back, a distance of 2 miles each way. Occasionally he would take a break at his grandparents' house downtown. People around town always recognized him in his North Carolina blue outfit. He would play in the yard working on his basketball moves, imitating the Tar Heels stars who he had seen on TV. When he entered the ninth grade at Brentwood School, our son, Coach Bob Bradley, immediately realized this 6'3" young guy was a special talent. Bob didn't want to put Michael " into the fire" too early, but after a 6-6 start, his team needed a "spark". In Michael's first full game as a starter, he scored 24 points, and a new "star was born"! He led his team to 20 straight wins, and the success would continue throughout his high school career. His parents, LuAnn & John, recognized early his "Carolina dream", & let him have a full-time job of being the best he could be at his great love for basketball. It was a great thrill the night that Michael's grandparents were in attendance when he scored 54 points to break his Dad's HS scoring record! Prior to his senior year, when I was named to coach the East squad in the National HS East-West All Star game, it was only natural for Bob & his twin brother, Bill, (both HS coaches), to be my assistants. Bob strongly urged & pleaded that his upcoming senior, 6'6" Michael Brooker, be our manager. One practice scrimmage in the Omni, one of our players was hurt, & Michael jumped "into the fray". Michael's talents were ready for "showtime", as they were on display before an array of college coaches there, scouting for players! U. Of Minnesota's coach, Clem Haskins, noticed Michael & said openly, "Who is that guy? I'll offer him a scholarship right now!" Coach Haskins helped Michael get into the 2-week prestigious "5-Star" camp, ---and the secret was out! This Brooker kid could play! Michael's senior year was superb as he had the 2nd longest consecutive free throw streak in high school history--87 straight!! He finished his career with 2,507 points & fielded scholarship offers from all over the country--but not from the one he wanted. Despite his coach's appeal to Dean Smith the consider Michael, North Carolina was not interested. Coach Smith told Bob that he had 3 guards that he had been recruiting for years, & he had no other scholarships available for the Brentwood youngster. After several trips all over the country, Michael had come down to the final week. He would choose between Georgia Tech & Michigan. On Sunday prior to that week's decision, Bob received a call from Coach Smith, saying that the 3 guards had fallen by the wayside, and on Monday he was sending his private jet to Sandersville to pick up Michael, his parents, & his Coach, Bob Bradley. Michael's dream became reality as he was the last player ever recruited by the legendary coach, Dean Smith. He is one of few players to have ever been a part of 3 Final Fours! It was a thrill for Bob, Jan & me, along with his family, to be at the Colorado game in the NCAA Tournament when Dean Smith became the "winningest coach" in college basketball history at that time!

 

7/14/14

We are celebrating a special day today, with our "little boys", Bob & Bill, who have had a total of 104 years (52 each)! Back in 2002, I wrote a poem to Jan, & in it was a part that told about our boys. I would like to share that part of the poem on this special day:

"Covington was a unique place even though
we lived in an apartment with not much space,
But I know it was in March of '62 that you got pregnant,
and said it would be your last.
We decided to build a house for our children of 3.
I recall each night your stomach seemed to have a lot of play.
Of course, back then we didn't know whether it was going to be
a little girl or boy with which to play.
I remember clearly that Dr. Callaway laughed that day.
I was shocked to hear what else he had to say!
"Jan, you've got two more boys with which Coach can play!"
I stormed into the delivery room
To make sure there were no more!
(I wasn't sure if Jan was awake & able to keep score!)
You said, "Ronald, you're not supposed to be in here today,
But, I just wanted to tell you we've
Got enough kids with which to play!"
The feeding & changing required all our efforts & more,
With the fact that our children had numbered 4!
The lack of sleep was blurring your sight.
I also remember Brenda & Brad saying,
"It seemed the kids cried all night."
It's hard to believe now our children are all grown,
& they are out in the world on their own!
They all are married and have families of their own
and I hope they'll teach their young ones right from wrong.
I hope they have learned from you & me,
And with God's blessings, they'll be as happy as can be!

 

 

7/14/14

As I look back on preparing for that 1st year @ George Walton Academy, I realized that they didn't want to settle for mediocrity or just "being average". They had a vision of excellence for their children's success in academics and athletics! They didn't have the adequate athletic facilities for a quality program, but I believed in their vision that those facilities would one day be a reality. Two of those who also believed in that vision, (& were probably were the most influential in our athletic program) were Gib & Margie Gray. Gib was a highly-regarded company executive from Missouri who had been sent to Georgia with the directive, "You have a free hand to do what you have to do to make a success of our large plant there, & if you can't, we'll shut it down!" One of my 1st days @ GWA, we had finished football practice & I was sitting in my little office. In walked a fellow whom I had not yet met---a red-haired fellow named Gib. He said, "Coach, you care about our young people, don't you?" I said that was what I was hired to do, and he said, "I want to help you." I didn't know this man, not realizing that he had a son, Conner, on our football team, & through the years I found a lot of people make promises during the heat of the moment & not following through, so I didn't take him very seriously. Then he said, "what do you need?" I proceeded to tell him how we need a football field, a practice field, stands in our gym, dressing rooms, an office, a laundry room, & added that I would love to have a weight room with Universal Machine." (I figured my "pipe dreams" were enough to scare anyone off, but I didn't know Gib Gray!). After deep thought, his only statement was, "What the hell is a Universal Machine?" Several days later, in our empty gym, a group of very professional-looking men were there with Gib, & I overheard his construction engineer say, "you want me to pull our crew off the building they are constructing for us, to do all the things that you want done here, & you don't want us to charge the school anything?" Gib strongly said, "Yes, & I want it done in a hurry!" I suddenly realized what a "mover & shaker" he was, & that he cared about this school! We were few in number, but we had outstanding athletes at every position. Playing our football games without a home field & all of our games on the road, our record was 6-3-1. After the season, Gib & I were on our way to California, to meet with the man who developed the Universal Machine. After ordering the machine (with all the extras), we toured Hollywood, etc. My mouth fell open when Gib said, "We've got one more day to spare. We can go to San Francisco & go out on a friend's large sailboat, or go to Las Vageas." (The Vegas story is too long to tell, but on our return flight after the LV stopover, I realized just what a unique man Gib was). Boarding a 747 (the 1st one I had ever seen), we went upstairs & Gib asked me if I wanted to sit up there in the empty VIP area. The flight attendant said that you had to rent the whole compartment. Gib pulled out his wallet & said, "How much?" I assured him I was content to sit downstairs. As the big plane prepared to pull out of the gate, Gib realized he had lost some important papers that he was working on (to corner the world's egg market)! He screamed bloody murder, & believe it or not, he made them return the plane to the gate! We rushed back into the terminal & then he realized he had left his important papers upstairs in the 747! Gib arranged a reward for our football staff to see UGA play in the Cotton Bowl. I won't tell the whole story, but when Georgia tried the trick "shoestring play" & it failed, all we heard the rest of the day was "Soooey Pig!" Several days later the our Headmaster called the Board chairman, George Hearn, & said, "There is some man named Gib with tractors knocking down trees, saying he is helping Jake & Mae Henderson build a football stadium! What should I do??" George's response---"Get the Hell out of his way!!" I could tell many more stories about Gib, but let me say that he didn't just help provide what I asked for, he always did more!!! (And his wife, Margie, a qualified teacher, would come to school & teach some of my classes so I could work some on the facilities.). Gib lived his life "wide open" & to the fullest! Several years later Jan & I were in Greece, preparing to fly to Paris, when we got word that Gib was killed in an auto accident. We miss Gib---he really was a very unique person & he left a legacy & facilities which will benefit young GWA students for years to come!!!

 

7/13/14

When we first started these stories, 40 posts ago, we didn't know whether those who had played or cheered for (or against) our teams cared, or had an interest in the memories or our website. With 127 varsity teams, nine schools, & a 50-year career, there were a lot of stories to share. We have been pleasantly surprised at the hundreds of Facebook "friend"requests from all over the country. We have received numerous comments which have inspired us, such as JoAnn "it's like a time machine"--Kay "I remember--keep them coming"--Linda "love hearing the stories", Frances "Post on, Coach", Anne "Precious memories" from Tommy, Amie, Mike, Pat--& many others. As we prepared to leave a life that we had lived for 18 years, we couldn't help but think of the people who helped us accomplish much. Our varsity basketball program had averaged over 25 wins & 4 losses a year in 17 years (428-68 record) with 34 various championships. Over the last 15 of those years, we had been to the state tournament 12 times, won 10 region & 1 State Championship & 2 State Runnerups! We had set a national record which still stands today of 129 straight wins on the home court (& we had another streak of 50 home wins before we lost)! In one 10-year period all of our starters except 2 received basketball scholarships. Several colleges made offers to me, but that was in the day before large TV and shoe contracts. We always tried to do something special for our championship teams such as flying to Kentucky to see their state tournament, going to the Final Four, trip to Disneyworld, trip to the beach, and other things. Our baseball program had been successful with 158-60 record, 5 Region titles & 2 State finalists. I thought it strange the day that the principal called me to the office & our football coach said, "we have to make up our mind whether we want a football school or a basketball school." I asked the coach if they paid him & he said "yes". I said, "They also pay me, & if we don't do the best job possible, they ought to fire us." We had a "midget program" for boys & girls from the 2nd to the 7th grade, & we conducted it all day each Saturday & after our season we had tournaments, free throw contests, awards, etc, as it grew over the years to reach almost 500 youngsters. I realized that "storm clouds" were gathering when an administrator came to me and said that we were over-emphasizing basketball, so they planned to dismantle our "midget basketball" program. (To read more of this story, go to www.coachronbradley.com, click on miscellaneous & click "midget program." This was in the time before Tommy Hailey came along & developed a "model" recreation program! When I told our son, Brad, of our plans to go to GWA, he was startled. He had spent his whole life admiring Ram athletes, waiting for the day when he could wear a blue & white uniform. For two years he had "paid the price" to be on the varsity & in his mind he & his lifetime friend, Scott Hubbard, would be running the NCHS offense with stars, Randy Henderson & Todd Whitsett. The twins, Bob & Bill, who were named for former Newton High MVP players, were at the beach playing in the Gulf & enjoying the scenery, when their mom told them that their dad had taken the George Walton Academy job & that they were going home & expected to be at football practice on Monday. They both exclaimed, in unison, "WHAT??"

 

7/12/14

When George Walton Academy Board Chairman, George Hearn, came to Covington he encouraged me to come to Monroe & help build a program that would benefit the area youngsters. As I look back, I think I received more benefit than I gave. I remember telling my wife, Jan, "Let's go see if I really want to coach." Now, realize that I am about to take a job that one of my managers has turned down. He came & told me I couldn't work in a place like that, they don't have a football field, dressing rooms, showers or other facilities. He thought I had lost my mind when I told him I was taking the job, but he didn't know I was ready for the challenge. The first time I walked on the GWA campus an attractive young lady, Mary Huff, came up to me & said, "Coach, I hope you'll help us win!" --(all Mary, Pam B., Tammy, & others did was to go 26-2 & 24-5 in our 1st 2yrs. @ GWA). It wasn't long before I met a lot if "winners", & none were more successful than Jake & Mae Henderson. With some people, when you meet them, their outstanding reputation has preceded them. Jake was sort of a quiet guy who owned a very successful electrical contracting company which did most of the wiring on the MARTA construction project in Atlanta. Jake wasn't around school much, but we knew if Mae approved something, her husband would support it. (Mae was a woman who would make any man a success, but her husband was a success in his own right). They lived in a hilltop mansion overlooking the golf course Mae designed & built. She was also an accomplished artist & did the painting that has hung in the entrance to the Loganville Methodist Church for over 30 years. When Mr. Hearn asked Mae to serve on the GWA Board of Trustees she replied, "I don't have much time to spare, but I will if you'll conduct the meetings in a businesslike way, & not a lot of "bull"! I got to know this couple very well through their son, Keith, an aggressive sophomore on our football team. He was one of our leading tacklers as his 3-yr. avg. was over 13 tackles per game. I remember after one of our games Keith was using a knife to cut the tape off his ankle & I told him he needed to get the "tape cutters,". He laughed, but a few minutes later he had cut himself & was bleeding. He looked at me & said, "Don't worry, Coach. I'll be ready Friday!"--& he was! Everybody loved Keith---& that is the reason, in his senior year, he was elected President of the Student Council. In our first year @ the new school, all of our football games were played on the road, & Keith helped lead us to a 6-3-1 record. George Hearn & Gib Gray deserve much credit, but it was Jake & Mae Henderson who really built our football stadium & the nice practice field. Mae worked daily as she & Keith personally cared for the sod which would have made any university proud. When I presented Keith's senior letter @ our awards banquet, I said Keith had told me he was going to work until he was 30, then play the rest of his life. When Jake followed me to present an award, he said he was glad to hear that Keith had planned to work, because he didn't think Keith planned to work! Keith was good with tractors as he helped build the stadium, but one day at his home, he turned a big tractor over, & when they pulled him out, he laughed & said, "I've always lived a 'charmed' life!" A couple of weeks before his HS graduation, visiting UGA where he planned to go to school, when he was returning home a little after midnight, he was only a couple of miles from home when he went to sleep, lost control of his car, hit a big boulder, & was killed. I received a call about 6 AM, & I rushed to the Henderson estate. On a beautiful spring morning as I drove up that long driveway to their mansion, I knew that this very successful couple who "had it all", would gladly give it all up to have their young son, Keith, walk through their door again. When Keith's FB jersey, #51, was retired & the field was named in his memory, Jake said, "Many others, Mae & I helped build this stadium not only for Keith, but for all those who will one day play on this field and track!"

 

7/11/14

Most of my coaching career was in the Covington, Monroe, & Loganville area, but one of my All-State players had a teammate in college that influenced my opportunity to teach/coach in the Dublin, Ga., area. I had been retired two years (for the 2nd time) and we were traveling with "wings", provided by our daughter, Brenda, who was a Delta flight attendant. Former star player, Wayne Hall's, roommate in college, Ron Riley, had heard all the great stories about Newton County's tradition, and claims that he was amazed when he saw his first Newton County game. Riley, who attended the same church as Dr. J.Y. Jones, convinced him that I was the coach, along with the new headmaster, Ron Kea, to
"Make something out of the school, or close the doors!" Jan & I visited the little school and as old as I was (nearing my 60s) I really wasn't sure I had the energy to "do it all" again. So, we headed out to the west coast for 10 days of more fun. When we returned late one night, the phone was ringing, and a voice said, "We have prayed about it, & The Lord wants you to come to Dublin, Ga., to teach & coach @ Trinity School. Jan said, "We can't refuse The Lord", & we headed out to Dublin the next day & agreed to a 5-yr. commitment. After seeing the facilities, I had 2nd thoughts, as they were in disrepair, & we had no place to live. Dr. Jones, a very strong Christian man said, "If you'll honor your commitment, we'll do a complete renovation of the facilities." The football stadium had been cared for by the local farmers, but the large gym & its facilities were completely redone. The office was very nicely done & furnished with all new furniture. With no place to live, Jan & I decided to sleep in the office for a "few" nights (3 months). Jan would sleep on the sofa, & I would sleep on a cot with my feet against the door. You have never experienced sounds like we heard each night in the big, dark gym. We never did know what some of those weird sounds were, but you can be assured that we didn't leave our little office to find out! Each evening the gates to the large campus were locked, with Jan & me inside, (& I often wondered if they did that to keep Jan & me from heading back north!). Once again I found out how special Jan was to support my career & she never let me be late for school--& it was easy to get in bed after a home game! Each evening Jan & I would hold hands (I sure didn't want her to leave me!), & roam the large wooded acreage where we would see deer, fox families, & turkeys. When I told our daughter that I had to run the turkeys off the football field, she said that I shouldn't talk about my players that way! Five years passed quickly & with Dr. JY Jones, Mr. Ron Kea, & an outstanding Booster Club president, Dianne Wages, & through their efforts the school had grown to around 400 students & is still very successful today touching the lives of young people! In our last year there, our football program had improved so much that we went 11-2 & won the region title! Our boys' basketball team had a 25-4 record, and also lost in the state playoffs. We had some outstanding athletes, such as Chad Lewis, Charles Coleman, Allen Manning, Stacy Nobles, & Chuck Price & others. The girls program had some very dedicated young ladies who loved the game of basketball. The had a 5-year record of 114-24, with 3 Region titles. Lee Haskins, Kim Ellington, Mary Holder, Emily Wages, Laurie Haskins & others, were all instrumental in helping Coach Bradley to record his 1,000th basketball victory which was the occasion for a huge celebration & brought together many who had made these victories possible. Then Loganville's Dan Digby & Coy Baker came calling, and after 5 great years @ TCS, it was an opportunity to head back north to "home"!

 

7/10/14

To build a great program, you not only need outstanding players, but many others who care & are interested in your teams. Recently Jan & I attended Julian Kitchens' 90th birthday party! (We don't get invited to many parties for someone 90 years old, even tho' my wife factiously reminded me it wouldn't be too many years before I would hopefully reach 90! This was special, as the Kitchens are the only people that I know (other than Jan), that saw our Avondale H.S. team play in the Newton High Gym, my first & last (& all the other Rams' games), & followed us throughout our coaching career. Basketball has always been very important to them, as Julian's H.S. Coach (over 70 years ago), asked him to take a young girl basketball player--Johnny Kathryn, to the Jr.-Sr. Prom. This date led to a courtship & marriage that is in it's 68th year! They also contributed to our program by having a daughter, Sandra, who was one of our outstanding cheerleaders. I have already written about many who have contributed much to our program, so I won't mention them again here. But, as the memories flow through my mind, I can't help thinking of Jimmy Gardner (& his "chicken dance" in the dressing room after big games). Jimmy was responsible for Jan & me flying to Colo. in 1972 to receive our 1st national coaching award; the great "hat waver", J. Hope Branham, who always inspired our fans with a variety of waves of his hat; Miss Pearl, who was in her late '80's & sat on the 1st row above my seat. When she got excited at the referees she would often spill her Coke & it would go on my head & down my back! Now I could never forget the 5 yr. old boy who fell in love with the Rams (& later was an "everything" to our team for 4 years). No one, other than my family has worked harder or longer than Darrell to contribute to the success of my career. As my mind roams, it reminds me of the day Mr. sharp called me into his office & wanted to talk about one of our most loyal fans, Archie. He was an ex-prize fighter, & NOBODY " messed with" Archie! He would come into the gym 2or3 weeks before our 1st game & bolt his chair to the first row @ the end of the court. He sat with several other guys & the rumor was that they were betting as much as 10 cents on the games. Mr. Sharp had a serious look on his face as he asked me to find out if Archie was bringing a gun to our games. The following Monday I went to his office & before I could say a word, he looked at me and seemed to be relieved as he said he knew I would find out if it were true. I told him while Archie was sitting in his car, waiting for the gym to open, his gun went off & it shot him in the "fanny" in 3 places! But, the good news is, after he got bandaged up at the hospital, he did make it back in time for our game! (Many more colorful stories from the past to come in the future!)

 

7/9/14

The 1965 Rams continued to build on their outstanding tradition as they won 69 of 70 games! NCHS had big hopes for adding another State Title to the previous year's State Championship (but we know championships don't always go to the best team). The Rams received a serious blow at the Christmas break, when their 2nd-leading rebounder (who was also a rugged football player), came to me & said, "Coach, I got married, but no one else knows it." It was a real integrity check for me, but I had to play by the rules. I said, "According to the H.S. rules, you are no longer eligible." (We were both in tears as we realized the the implications of this decision. We knew that any weakness this team had was our board strength.). We were still strong enough to finish the regular season unbeaten, capture the sub-region and win our 3rd Region Championship in 4 years, by defeating Hart County in our gym before turn-away crowds (see picture). We were dealt a blow as we played a very late game that went into overtime, and it was near midnight when we finally subdued Lafayette. Tim Christian received a leg injury & the schedule had us playing an early game the next day, which left him little time to recuperate from his injury. A big (& well-rested) Sandy Springs team, had prepared all year for this one big game. With the fouls 15-6 in their favor, the Rams' 42 game winning streak ended. Sandy Springs fell back to normal the next night, as they lost 60-40 to Cairo (& Bill Stanfill). Seniors Tim Christian, Stan Harris, & J W Rutledge finished with a 4-year record of 125 wins & 9 losses! (Their last 2 year records of 35-1 & 34-1 were the best in Georgia.). They won 3 region titles, a state championship, 11 various tournaments, while extending their home court winning streak to 90 straight! Tim Christian ended his career with 24 school records in basketball, as he was named the #1 player in Georgia, an All-American player, & was feted in New York for a week as one of the top 10 players in the U.S. The Newton County Rams had built a 7-year boys' varsity basketball record of 199 wins & only 18 losses, 4 region titles, and a total of 16 different tournament wins! When you lose a Mitchell, Shaw, or a Christian, you think that the success is going to end, but if you have young guys who have been learning & waiting in the wings for their turn, such as a Richardson, Hall, Wilkerson, Hill, Summers, Dickerson, Price, Schell, Freeman, & many others, the program will continue to thrive! The Atlanta Journal's writer, Ken Jones, summed up the Rams' 1965 defeat in the following article: "The test of a true champion is defeat. Winning streaks may be broken, titles may be lost, but one thing the proud champ never loses-- is class. The Rams were magnificent in winning, and they were just as impressive in defeat. They deserve plenty of credit, not only for their basketball prowess, but for the class they have. That will last a lifetime!"

 

7/8/14

We are continuing the story of the Rams' 1964 season & their attempt to win the 1st major state championship in the school's history. Sleep was hard to come after our big Region semi-final win over Winder, & it seemed the whole Hartwell motel was filled with "Ram" fans. When the team left the motel for the region finals, many fans were cheering for them as they left to face the defending state champs, Hart Co., on Hart's home floor. Our fans were cheering, "We've gotta have 'Hart'!" The game, played before a packed house, was exciting as the Rams won 50-44, for their 3rd region title in 4 years. As a coach, when you think your team is good enough to "win it all", you are on a close watch for negatives ( which we have covered in previous stories). The day before heading to Atlanta, after our last practice, our senior guards, Grady Campbell & Terry Smith, came to me and said they were "itching". I said, "We're ALL itching to play again!" Campbell, a future chief medical doctor @ U. Of Cincinnatti Hospital, understood the body & thought the spots they had might be serious. Immediately my mind raced back to undefeated pitchers, injuries, etc., that had cost us State Championships. I asked if either of them had ever had penicillin shots. Grady said, "I had one 4 or 5 years ago", & "Dr. Bradley" said, "It's a penicillin reaction-- go home, put some calamine lotion on the spots & get a good night's sleep!" Grady knew better, but was not about to challenge his coach. We were staying at the new Americana Hotel in downtown Atlanta, & we put Terry & Grady in a room away from the team (we didn't want any of the other players to "catch" the penicillin reaction from the boys). We beat Crisp Co. (24-3 record), 64-49, and we had to struggle to win over Rockmart (26-6), 51-41. Now, here standing in our way to the highly coveted State Championship, was my old college roommate, Bill Ensley, & his Hart Co. Bulldog team, with a 23-6 record. The Newton Co. boys were not to be denied, as they won 71-49, setting off a wild celebration! As the championship trophy was presented, Stanley Harris, Wayne Hall & Tim Christian were announced as members of the All State team. The 78 points that Tim scored in the state tournament helped him to be named MVP in the 2nd straight tournament. (I had to get up several times during the night to check the trophy to make sure it had "State Champions" on it!). After breakfast the next morning, our team was escorted by a police detail with lights blinking & sirens blaring, for a joyous celebration on the Covington Square! Later, when Ginny Dobbs told me she wasn't about to miss the State Tournament, and had to use large amounts of make-up to cover her "measles" spots, and many other fans also did so, I realized that maybe it wasn't a penicillin reaction after all. Seniors Campbell & Smith completed their high school careers with 3 Region titles, 1 State title, 10 different tournament titles, never lost at home (as the home court winning streak reached 71 straight), and with a 4-year record of 120 wins & only 9 defeats! With 3 all-state players returning, there was talk (& high hopes) of a repeat for the next year!
State Championship Game Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wvvFjpKv6Y
State Championship Radio Broadcast: http://clyp.it/sayle2ox
Celebration on the Square audio file: http://clyp.it/3td2xbxb

 

7/7/14

The 1964 season began with high expectations and a chip still on their shoulder of the Rams after not going to the big dance the previous year in spite of the 29–3 record. As one of the most publicized athlete in the state, Tim Christian was a marked man every game, but he relished the challenge. Tim's junior year he averaged 21 points, 12.4 rebounds per game, despite being hounded by college recruiters from all over the country. The guard play was in the hands of seniors Terry Smith, 11 points per game, and Grady Campbell, 8.3 points per game. The forward spots were manned by two outstanding players, Stan Harris, 10 points per game, and sophomore Wayne Hall, eight points per game and these two players were both Allstate candidates. Help was plentiful with Steve Smith, Jeff Hinton, Gary Bloodworth, Bob Richardson, and Steve Smith available. The Rams swept through 27 straight opponents including an early season 2 point win over Winder. The night before our final game of the season, an Atlanta reporter called and stated that a winder coach had called them and stated that they wanted the press available the next night, as they were going to beat the Newton County Rams.The next day at school, word was sent informing the Newton County fans that the game was a complete sellout and there was no reason for fans to come from Covington. So Newton county fans, that has relatives in Winder, heard about the flyers being circulated concerning the sellout game and headed out to Winder early, in order to make sure they could get in the gate. It was the only game in my career, where one of our teams arrived at the game site, and could not find a place to sit, but could not even find standing room. Our team, sat in the dressing room, listening to the band play, as our girls team was preparing to play the Bulldogs. We had a few loyal fans, that found their way to the back door into our dressing room, and when we heard familiar voices, we opened the door, and let those fans in, and where they went, I have no idea. The game hadn't started good before Tim Christian had three fouls on him, so we sat him out the rest of the first half. We instructed Tim not to play any defense in the second half, but to only play on offense, in order to have him available to our team. All of our instructions went out the window in the second half as Tim got his fourth foul on the third-quarter tip, and when the ball went down the floor and the rebound came off on the floor opposite Tim, he was called for his fifth foul and was sent to the bench for the rest of the game. The game went into overtime with Winder winning 59-51. The following week the Rams won the subregion tournament, with wins over St. Pius, and Baldwin County. Now came the game that everyone was talking about, with the Winder team that ended our 1963 season, and was the only team to beat the Rams over what proved to be a 70 game stretch. Most of the fans in the packed house were well aware of what this game meant, as a trip to the state tournament was on the line, and they also knew about the shenanigans that were going on prior to the game, which led to both teams coming out in dark jerseys. It was a night that will long be remembered as a revenge seeking Tim Christian owned the game as he broke the school record with 42 points and almost equaled by himself the 44 points Winder scored in the 61-44 Ram victory. Tim was aided by his classmate, Stanley Harris's 14 points and the excellent guard play of Terry Smith and Grady Campbell. Tim was paraded around on his teammates shoulders as he offered handshakes to his adversaries whose season was over. At the motel after the game, a happy principal, Mr. Homer Sharp, greeted the team with a Beetles' wig on his head. The next post will capture the Rams March to the state championship.

 

7/6/14 part 2

After 2 straight region titles, we thought we had this "championship" thing solved, but we had a set-back in 1963 even tho' we had a very good team. We rambled through the season with a 27-2 record, but were in a tough region with 2 other state-
ranked contenders, Winder & Hart Co. We had beaten Winder, twice in close games during the season, by 2 & 4 points. We reached the region semi-finals with a trip to the state tournament on the line, & led Winder with seconds left near halftime, when a Winder shot from behind mid-court "hit nothing but net"! The Winder team & crowd rode their celebration to a 39-36 victory. Meanwhile, the finest team that Coach Stone Cooper & the NCHS Lady Rams had ever had were "on a roll!" With a roster loaded with talent, all Newton Co. thought this would surely be the team to bring a state title home. The Lady Rams were loaded, with Jordye Bailey, Day Morcock, Carol George, Rosemary Laster, Donna Dooley, Kay Shaw, & others. But don't make the mistake of not knowing that it was Betty Faith Jaynes that was the "glue" that held this team together! The Lady Rams blitzed 30 straight opponents, including the big region championship win over perennial power, Hart Co. The day that the girls were leaving for Eastman, Ga., probably set in motion the motivation for the next several years. The boys' team, who had finished the season with the sub-region title & a final record of 29-3, sadly watched the girls' team leave for Eastman, Ga., & the beginning of the state tournament. Excitement was felt throughout the school as the players wore their corsages, displayed their "goodie bags" given to them by the cheerleaders, and with the band playing, the cheerleaders leading cheers, the pep rally moved to the parking lot as the girls' motorcade left, with all the cars highly decorated with signs! The girls swept through their 1st 2 opponents easily, & were preparing for their semi-final game in the Ga. Tech coliseum. But, a strange thing happened that will never happen again---the Hart Co. Girls won, coached by an assistant coach while 4 hours north, in Atlanta, Coach Bill Ensley, Ronald's college roommate & good friend, was coaching his boys' team to victory. After the smoke had cleared in the state semi finals, the 4 teams left standing were the same 4 teams as had faced each other in region 4AA tournament. The outcome was reversed as both the Hart Co. girls & boys gained sweet revenge in the state finals. Watching all of this excitement from the stands must have motivated the Rams boys team as over the next 2 years they would win 69 of their next 70 games and the long-sought State Championship!

 

7/5/14 part 1

1961 season with Bob Mitchell (15 ppg), Alan Rowe (15 ppg & 15.2 rpg), & Billy Shaw (14.2 ppg) finally made "the year" happen! The Newton Co. Rams swept through 26 straight opponents to reach the region finals undefeated to face Madison Co in their new gym. With a standing-room only crowd on hand, the Rams warmed up in such a precise way that it carried over into the game (with a 69-48 victory). Finally, a highly-coveted region championship trophy belonged to Newton County! Now a new goal was the challenge. After a double overtime, "sudden death" period, Billy Shaw scored on a wild,twisting, left-hand layup for a 51-49 victory over the Cairo Syrupmakers. During the after-game celebration, Billy came over to me and said, "I could have made an easy shot, Coach, but I wanted to give you a thrill!" The next day there was a caravan of cars headed to the Ga. Tech coliseum with signs on the cars which said "29 straight takes Newton to state!" The most successful season in Rams' history ended in the state semi-finals 48-43 to Headland HS. Sometimes, the first is always the hardest. The next year (1962), Billy Shaw (24 ppg), Michael Rutledge, & "spark plug" Henry Bowen, were primed for a repeat. There were two young freshmen, Tim Christian & Stanley Harris, studying & learning, who would later bring the most-storied period in NCHS history. In one of the early road games when the team got off the bus, dressed in their sharp-looking blazers, one of the local boys said, "Look at those 'little ole boys! Our B-team could beat them!" Shaw spoke up and said, "maybe--but your varsity can't!"--& they couldn't! (The Rams' wins were already beginning to show a lot of confidence.). The Rams reached the semi-finals of the Region Tournament, with a trip on the line to the state tournament. The possibilities of a 2nd straight trip to Atlanta looked dismal, as the Rams trailed by 12 points with 3 minutes left in the game! The opposing coach & his team were celebrating the victory they thought they had won---but, they didn't know Billy Shaw! With 3 Newton starters on the bench with 5 fouls, in the team huddle, instructions were given, "Get the ball to Shaw, & get out of his way!" As he had done on numerous other occasions, Billy brought his team back to 63-60 win!! One of my lifetime remembrances of the celebration was the tearful hug between Michael Rutledge & & his dad, Dean, with Billy Dean in their hearts! After a 50-39 win over Hart Co in Gainesville for the Region Championship, the Rams were headed back to Atlanta again! It was a short trip, & a short game as a malfunctioning clock took several minutes from the game & helped a tired Murray Co. team to a 52-46 victory over the Rams. Murray Co., with their shortest player 6'4", ran "roughshod" over their next 3 opponents for the state title. So the "storied" 4-yr. career of Billy Shaw had come to an end with a record 101 wins, & only 13 defeats, 55 straight wins on the home court, 7 tournament titles & 2 region championships that would pave the way to many future championships later. Billy left NCHS as the all-time leading scorer with 1,552 career points, and a Newton-record 41 pts in a game, vs. Central Gwinnett. Our records showed Billy had won 9 games with a last-second shot, (but Shaw still insists it was 12 games)! The story continues tomorrow when the nearly-perfect '63 "Lady Rams" helped motivate the boys basketball team to win 69 of their next 70 games!

7/3/14

In my 17 years as head baseball coach @ NCHS, we had a lot of outstanding talent, especially our pitchers, Haskel Johnson, Larry Parnell, Richard Moore, Larry Wagner, Tony & Grant White, & Randy Quintrell. They were all instrumental in helping Newton Co. build a baseball program with a record of 158 wins & 60 losses--5 Region Championships, 2 State Finalists & were in the playoffs 10 of 17 years. The two standout pitchers not mentioned, Stanley Edwards & Doug Bledsoe, set records that will always be near the top in the record book. Stanley Edwards was way beyond his years with pitching knowledge. (When a player knows more about his position than his coach, you leave him alone!). In the 1962 season Stan had a perfect 10-0 pitching record. He had pitched an outstanding 4-hitter over the Crisp Co. team. In order not to take a chance on hurting his arm, we thought we might get 3 or 4 innings out of another pitcher & bring Stan in for the balance of the game. We fell behind West Rome in the 1st inning & finished the season with an undefeated Stan Edwards. He finished his H.S. Career with 15 wins & 1 defeat! In 1963 the Rams were talented again with Terry Smith, Terry Rutledge, Ronnie Lynch, & Denny Dobbs leading the way. The backbone of the team was the pitching of Doug Bledsoe. Bledsoe took up where Edwards left off! He led the Rams to the state semi-finals, where he lost the only game of his career, to East Rome, 2-1. He finished the season with a 7-1 pitching record. With the momentum built in the previous 2 seasons, the 1964 baseball season began with high expectations. With Terry Smith, Billy Shepherd, Jack Gibbs & Tim Christian, big things were expected. But the real burden of how far that this team could go was in the hands of pitcher Bledsoe, & the steady catcher Tim Hopkins. Again, the experienced Bledsoe led the way to the state tournament. After a late night 2-0 win over Wayne Co. (that took 2 extra innings), we were faced with a similar situation that we had faced in 1962. We had a pitcher with a 9-0 record who was tired from a 9-inning game the night before. We lost in the state finals to Headland HS, 7-4. Doug Bledsoe finished his career with a school record of 16 wins & only 1 loss. And 50 years later, an "old" coach still thinks he did right by protecting young pitchers' future careers, but State Championships are mighty hard to come by!

7/2/14

My last story involved playing "baseball" with a knife, & it has broken open a flood of memories. When I was a little boy, baseball was the only game we knew. I always loved to ride the Exposition Mills' company truck that carried the baseball players to their games. I noticed all the big players chewed tobacco, so one day I sneaked a big chunk of my dad's Brown Mule & headed to the ball field. I had that big wad in my mouth, & I felt like a "big leaguer". The first ground ball hit toward me took a bad hop & hit me right between the eyes, causing me to swallow my Brown Mule, & I saw more colors than I ever knew existed!--NEVER, EVER any more tobacco for me!! When someone asked me what I was going to do with my life, the answer was always--"Play Ball!" They always said, " you can't do that your whole life!"-- but I'm getting close to proving them wrong! If an old man gets out & flies a kite by himself, everyone thinks he's crazy! But, if he has a young boy with him everyone will say, "isn't that old man nice to help that youngster learn to fly a kite!" At Avondale High School I played on state championship teams in baseball (pictured here), football, & a state runner-up in basketball! Obviously, I had a passion for sports! My senior year in HS, several pro baseball teams made offers to me, but the best offer came from the Atlanta Crackers. The offered to pay me a bonus more than any other team & gave me an additional offer that would be illegal in h.s. today. After my h.s. baseball practice each day, I would go to Ponce de Leon Park & work out in pre-game warm-ups with the Atlanta Crackers. This was big stuff--I was in "hog heaven"! I remember the day when future Philadelphia Phillies manager, Gene Mauch, got mad at his team, hit the wall with his fist--breaking his hand & having to wear a cast for the rest of the season. This was in 1953, & some of those guys moved on as the new team, the Milwaukee Braves, later to become the Atlanta Braves. My mom made a wise decision in urging me to go to college, rather than accepting a pro baseball offer! I turned down a UGA football scholarship, thinking a baseball-basketball scholarship would keep my offers open for a pro baseball career. Today, any time I pass the old Sears building on Ponce de Leon Ave. in Atlanta, my mind begins to wander. The only thing left of the baseball field is the magnolia tree. My senior year in high school, I played in the North-South all star game, & our teams were quartered at the old Henry Grady Hotel. At our pre-game meal, most of the guys were nervous, and gave me their food. The ball I hit under the magnolia tree for a triple, would have been a homerun if I had not eaten all those steaks! Our next post we will feature 17 years coaching baseball at Newton Co. H.S., & how 2great undefeated H.S. pitchers, Stanley Edwards & Doug Bledsoe, were State Runners-up. (It still hurts--they deserved to be State Champions!)

7/1/14

WARNING--today's story is X-rated! Do not let young people read or attempt to duplicate ! You could also be arrested if you try to sneak any of these items discussed into a school, airport, courthouse, etc. I (Coach B), grew up in a mill village when money was scarce, & we had to improvise to develop games, especially during long, hot days of summer vacation. I have always loved games & competing. We would play all the regular games & made up our own games. We used a rolled-up sock or half rubber ball & a broomstick. Every now & then, while chasing a foul ball, some innovative kid would "accidently" cover the ball with grass & the next day he would luckily find the real ball--then we had a real game with discarded broken bats. We had bullfrog-hunting contests and shared the fried legs in a friend's barn. If no other guys were looking, we took a piece of glass & played hopscotch. On Valentine's Day we loved to "throw" homemade valentines--(my wife still hasn't figured this one out!). A valentine was placed on the porch & a rock was thrown onto the porch to let the person know that it was there. If you didn't care for the wise guy, you gave him a cartoon valentine & threw a "boulder" on the porch, & then you ran like heck! Now, if you happen to notice a man in the dark with a shotgun, you would say "excuse me! Wrong house!" & run up the street! I loved to compete to see who could climb highest in the tree, or who could climb the farthest out on the limb. Some skinny kid always seemed to win. Sometimes when the limb broke, if you didn't ride the limb down correctly, it would take a cast & a little time to heal it. But my favorite game was baseball, with my favorite knife. (No baseball -loving boy would be caught without his special knife, in case a game broke out!). My favorite place to play was on one of the team benches at the ball field. You would straddle the bench & the other person sat 3 or 4 feet away from you. If you look at the picture above, you place the long blade on the bench, put your thumb on top of the knife, with the opposite forefinger underneath the end of the knife, & flip the knife with the forefinger. The placement in the picture is a single. If the knife sticks on the long blade, it's a double. If both blades touch, it's a triple. If the little blade sticks by itself, it's a homerun, & if the knife lands on it's back, it is a walk. If the knife fails to hit any of these, or falls off the bench, it is an out. Regular baseball rules were enforced. For a single, we would say,"ding", for a double, "ding, ding", just like announcer Ernie Harwell, of the Atlanta Crackers. We got so efficient that the pitchers didn't have a chance, so we would play on a very hard surface on a 2" wide board or on the hard red clay ground. We almost always had a pocket-knife handy. Come to think about it, i don't ever remember some gal whipping out a knife and saying, "Let's play baseball!" I had planned to explain how we played "mumbly-peg" or "root-the-peg" with an icepick. Do any of you remember this game when all of us needed the pick to use when the block of ice was delivered by the "ice-truck" on a hot summer day? Also, do any of you remember the "ice cream man" coming around ringing his bell with the little cart full of goodies for only 5 cents each?

6/30/14

Today's story is about one of our sons, Coach Bill Bradley's players @ Thunder Ridge H.S., whom we watched in the state finals one snowy night in Boulder, Colo. Bill is no stranger to success with over 400 girls varsity basketball wins. He started the girls' fast pitch softball @ Loganville (Ga.) H.S. & quickly had a state runner-up team & state championship team. Abby Waner (3rd to right behind Bill) was the star of the Grizzlies, as she was the two-time Colo. HS Player of the Year. She was the 2nd all-time leading scorer in state history & was the National Player of the Year for McDonald's and Gatorade. She went on to a stellar 4-year career at Duke University. This story came to fruition in an article, in the Denver Post, written by Mark Kiszla, about Lu Wilson (seated behind Bill). My memories began to work overtime as I remembered some "Lu's" in my coaching career--Henry Bowen, Grady Campbell, Steve Smith @NCHS; Sandra Kitchen, Brad Snipes, John Howard @ GWA; & Rachel Black @ Trinity. After winning a 3rd straight state championship, the Grizzlies' fans went crazy! But, know what was really wild? the loudest cheers from the crowd were reserved for a senior who did not score a single point in the final game--"Lu", the Grizzlies' fans crooned in unison! "My nickname is Lu, which my brother started calling me a long time ago", explained Laura Wilson, laughing. "They're all trying to shout 'Lu', but it comes out 'Boo'--& it's the best! I love it!" "She is the hustling, smiling, winning example of everything that prep sports should be. Her story is a tribute to every one of the thousands of Colorado HS students who play with all their hearts all year long, whether the instrument of their passion is a basketball or a clarinet, whether the goal is to nail a dance routine or drop a perfect squeeze bunt in the bottom of the 7th. What Wilson did as a ThunderRidge starter was a gift generous far beyond her years. If statistics were kept for setting picks, she would have shattered the single season state record. Her hands are always up on defense, and her feet never stop shuffling. Her game is the constant whir of a cog whose absence would cause the entire machine to sputter." "It's my job, so I will take it" Wilson said. Lu is every kid who puts in hours of practice between algebra tests and never expects to see her face on television, or needs to read about it in the newspaper." "There are so many young kids who have to go read their press clippings after every games," Bradley said. "All Lu Wilson needs to know is that she did her job to make her smile. And, without that, you can't win." Actions speak louder. Everything every kids needs to know about being a winner can be learned by watching Wilson pass & cut. The one enduring truth in the Thunder Ridge dynasty is the story of a girl named Lu. Celebrity fades, Wilson won't. If there was only one story to tell all year, Lu would be it." "One of these days I am going to be a high school math teacher," said Wilson, one of seven children in her family. "I like kids." The stars of the game are as obvious as the box scores. Wilson first shot a basketball in the 1st grade. In all those years of practice, how many jumpers did she rehearse?" "A million at least," Wilson said. In the final game of her prep career Lu attempted one shot,---it missed. Sometimes, you have to read beyond the box score's fine print to discover a role model worth remembering."

6/29/14 part 4

Continued from previous posts: Our team was geared for a wild game & our fans were loving it! We were on an 18-game winning streak as we headed to Gainesville. It was a long night for the Rams as they came out on the short end of a 67-58 loss. Our very next game we headed back toward Gainesville to face South Hall. It was the strangest game of my nearly 1800 varsity basketball games as a coach! The only call the "refs" could make was a double foul. Right before halftime tempers flared and Larry Harper took a swing, which missed, & the scrap started. The clock continued to run and the horn finally sounded. The players stopped, as if on cue, and we went to our dressing room. Now the problem was there was only one men's restroom for the fans, & it was in our dressing room. I stationed 3 of our biggest players to hold the door, as I was "pretty hot!" as I needed to adjust to the"football" game that was being played on the court. A team could send a sub onto the floor as long as you didn't exceed 5 players (the refs could count). We won the game on a beautiful block by Perry Haymore & a fine run by Larry Parnell for a layup. Prior to our last game of the season, Billy Dean slammed the car door on his thumb, and the bleeding limited his play, but we won over Chamblee 55-54 and finished the regular season with a 21-1 record. We won our opening game of the sub-region tournament over Avondale 88-72. On Friday the 13th,we next faced the bright- colored orange Bulldogs of Hart Co., and we chased their great-
dribbling guard all night as he continually fed his open teammates in a 62-58 Hart win. We were still alive as we entered the region tournament. After defeating East Hall & Headland, here were the "Elephants" again! On a turnover or a basket Gainesville wouldn't let us have the ball until their players got back on defense, & it slowed our Rams' offense down. A travel call on a wide-open layup was critical as the loss gave the Rams a final 24-3 record. The next day I took the seniors to Macon for the Class B&C state tournament. On the way we stopped at the S&W Cafeteria. A man was playing soft music at the piano & I noticed that all of us had tears falling into our plates.

6/28/14 part 3

This is the third story on the '59 NCHS boys team. The guards were outstanding, as Billy Dean Rutledge averaged 21 ppg. & Gerald Autry averaged 11 ppg. (with a shot that had no "arch").
Our center, Ed Hertwig, was a Ga. Tech FB signee, who avgd. 11 rebounds per game. When Ed, who wore thick glasses, rebounded he always swung his elbows & nine other players on the court got out of the way---5 opponents & his 4 teammates! Our forwards were Larry "Goose" Parnell, who was one of the finest athletes that probably created more interesting situations than any I have ever coached. Then there was Bobby Mobley who was also a catcher on our baseball team. (This was before Stanley Edwards & Billy Shaw taught me why my players needed to travel WITH me & under my supervision!
(Bobby was driving a car to our Gainesville baseball game when he was looking toward the backseat while figuring his batting avg. & tractor pulled out in front of him.) Bobby's car hit the tractor, splitting the tractor into two parts. (I think this is the reason, after graduation, Bobby moved to California.) I haven't even mentioned the talented Richard Moore, who went on to a fine career playing & coaching in Tennessee, or the fiery Larry Harper & two very close lifetime friends, Perry Haymore & Johnny Capes. And, when you throw in youngsters Bob Mitchell, Allan Rowe & freshman Billy Shaw, you have all the ingredients for a fine team & a lifetime of stories. After beating Loganville in our 1st game, we won 8 straight prior to facing powerful Gainesville High, featuring future football Hall of Famers Billy Martin & Billy Lothridge. One of our players said, "We haven't ever beaten the Red Elephants in anything." In front of a packed house, we sent them home with a 67-58 defeat. The Rams were on a roll, and the NCHS fans were loving it!--the last of the '59 basketball team stories will be in our next post.

6/27/14 part 2

This is a continuation of the story on the 1959 NCHS boys basketball team. We have been giving readers a glimpse of the physical/mental requirements to be a part of our team. We would do 30 or 40 different drills a day in order to develop good habits. We reached the point, where, with the use of a whistle, we'd do these daily drills in minutes. Space doesn't allow me to explain the 3-3 drill, but any former player will never forget it! We always had trash cans handy & the doors open in case players needed help in "finishing the drill"!
It taught several fundamentals & usually determined if they were serious about becoming a part of our team. This drill later almost cost us 6'6" Scott Price, & upcoming freshmen, Scott Hubbard & Brad Bradley. In spite of the great talent, our '59 team was weak fundamentally. Team members who also played football, didn't get to "enjoy" all of this "fun" as they had their own fun @ football practice. Our 1st year the rules of the game were very different from today's. On a turnover, the opponent could step out of bounds & put the ball into play without the referee touching the ball. Later, I'll tell what the Gainesville team did to exploit this rule & end our season. We always tried to limit our turnovers to 10 per game & create 10+ in our opponents. Our statisticians wore out their pencils on this team! On some nights we would have 30-40 turnovers, but we also might create 40 or more opponent miscues! In our 3rd story, we'll cover our great personnel (a unique group of individuals for a young coach to begin his career).

6/26/14 part 1

Today we'll go back in time to when my 50-yr. HS coaching career began. My 1st year at Newton Co. HS I was the "B-team" coach. It gave me a chance to sort out some things about coaching as we had a 21-3 record. But, more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to get to know the younger players & for them to learn my beliefs that fundamentals, discipline & desire were the keys to success. The school & community were hungry for a winner as they had never won a region championship. I had maybe the best group of pure athletes that I ever had in my entire career, and they were self-motivated to win. Prior to our 1st season we had 3 weeks of spring practice, and in the summer I gave each player a basketball & a key to the gym (that was long before liability suits were feared). I was influenced by one of the great HS coaches, Eric Staples of Perry, who one time stated he never locked his gym & left basketballs out on the floor for play. Our 6-week summer 1-on-1 program was highly competitive, with all the results being posted. This was a practice that I used with most all of my teams through the years, as it helped students to make up their mind if they really wanted to play. Of course, I had to continually adjust as the rules changed. In the fall we had 4 weeks of fundamentals & 4 weeks of team play instructions. I won't even go into our conditioning program which involved ankle weights, weighted "medicine" balls, ropes, and a lot of running. (Later in my career we had to change & adjust with new rules.). We probably lost a lot of talented players that were more interested in girls or cars, than playing sports. That is probably the reason I could say that I never "cut" a youngster who wanted to play. If they stayed with us through our program, they were a part of our team regardless of their ability. This story will be continued

6/25/14

I want to thank all the friends that encouraged me to continue telling the stories that so many of you helped to create. I realize I'm in the middle of winter in my life, so if I'm going to tell some of the deep secrets, I had better hurry. I coached football for 19 years, but we never had another team like the '79 season produced. We had a great coaching staff. Coach Jay Milligan loved our George Walton Academy youngsters like they were his own, and they loved him back. I'll have to tell about him on another day, I couldn't do him justice here. Our defensive co-ordinator was Coach Dick Lingner, whose day job was as a captain with a major air line. Coach B.C.Crowell was our chief scout and with his lifetime experience, was invaluable. Longtime friend Judson Caldwell had been a trainer on every level, and he helped keep our guys taped together. We knew we had a lot of talent returning with linebacker Don Holder who averaged 15.7 tackles and nose tackle, Bob Bradley who averaged 13 tackles, heading up the defense, and Art Williams running the offense.when I think back to some of those names on that team it makes me want to get my whistle out again. We had outstanding running backs in Kent Duncan, Michael Toms, and UGA's great back, gliding Glen Harrison's brother, Stan. Williams' favorite target was leading receiver, Bill Bradley. Some of the other prominent players were Larry Sheridan, Buddy Hearn, Ben Doster, Rob Dally, Brad Snipes, Skipper Seabolt, and of course Kyle Chandler the future movie star, and several others.About the 6th game of the season we gained a measure of revenge by beating a strong Gatewood team 16 to 6. This was a win that got us ready to go to Thomson to play the Bucaneers, who had kicked us like a rag doll the year before. QB Art Williams' dad provided us with shirts that had 0-31 WE WANT YOU." On Thursday Jan and I returned home late to a sickening sight, both of our twin sons had a bald head. We were told that Coach Milligan had stayed late and sheared most of the team. One of the Briarwood players said,"when they took those helmets off, and we saw those bald heads we knew we were in trouble." And they were as GWA won 28-6, and Art Williams never sang the " rooster song" better than he did that night. In the state semi-finals we were down 21 to 14, late in the game when future NCState signee, Don Holder, blocked a punt around the 18 yard line. After scoring from the one yard line we had to hold our breath on a Williams' to Bill Bradley 2 point pass that sent us to the state finals. The temperature played a major role as the Wesrbrook team rolled in and it was a chilly 18 degrees. The Cougars coach had called and asked if they needed to bring coats as he was in shorts. I told him I was in shorts, as usual, and not to worry about the weather. Prior to the game when these big studs strutted around the gym shirtless, we tried to keep our players from seeing them. Just before the team headed out for warm-up the tempo was set when Coach Milligan took off high heavy coat, and written on it was, I GAVE MY HAIR BECAUSE I CARE, he then ripped off his toboggan and showed his bald head. I think the stage was set early when the Cougars isolated their outstanding running back on this Holder boy they had heard about. After the collision, the future FSU running back suffered a broken jaw. Good competitors don't quit, so they wrapped up his jaw and early in the second half with the GWA clinging to a 7-6 lead, the star running-back headed to LB Don Holder again. This time a broken hand ended the game for the star running-back and his teammates. Our other coaches had to let the players shear them after a 12-7 win and a state championship. Bob later coached with the Westbrook mentor and heard several versions about the big victory meal their fans had planned at a nice restaurant. They did go ahead and give their coach the new red Corvette which they had parked outside the restaurant.

 

6/24/14

I'm a little late with my post today, but if you know the "BEAU" with all it's entertainment, you know why.If you have followed my comments lately you know how my granddaughter put together a FB page, I promised Jan I would do 3 weeks of stories to see if there is any interest. I taught and coached 1000's of young people during my 50 year career in which I was head coach of 126 different varsity teams. One of our former campers, Karen Lord Rutter reminded me about the 24 summers I was also associated with many young people as AD at the FFA-FHA camp. Recently I did a post on on one of the winningest senior classes in GHSA history, Bob Richardson, Wayne Hall, and Steve Smith who averaged 33 wins a year for their 4 year career. A record not likely to be broken under current rules. Then I did a post on SANTA CLAUS and I thought it would create some comments. These stories didn't seem to stir any comments. I haven't even got to the stories about the great NCHS pitchers, Stanley Edwards, and Doug Bledsoe or the outstanding life of Tommy Hailey or the story about the clutch shooting Billy Shaw. So I guess the people that I thought might be interested are too old, don't know how to use the internet, have passed on, or are not interested. I am going to finish my 3 week commitment, then spend more time at the beach, helping my dermatologist have more business.

 

6/23/14

Sometimes you have a youngster under your guidance and you have no idea how high that person might fly. Way back in the "50"s we had a young player on our first basketball team. He was a very nice guy and he helped lead us to a great year with a 21-3 record. It is hard to describe the fun we had with that group of young men. When some of our players leave high school, you lose contact with them, but each year without fail, he comes around for a visit. This youngster named Johnny ended up being famous! He worked at several positions and places, including Atlanta's Phipps Plaza. He is so famous that people schedule appointments months in advance. He has his picture taken more than anyone I know. If you check the records, you'll find that his present name is uttered as much as the President's. You could never believe how high he flies nor the number of homes where he is welcomed after many hours and days of intense preparation. He doesn't even have to utter his present name. Today he is known as SANTA CLAUS. It was always a thrill for our grand kids to get up around 5:00 AM to go and see this famous person. They couldn't believe it when he would ask about Coach Bradley. They would come home and ask,"Pop, did you really teach Santa Claus." Johnny Hammonds, you and Santa Claus brought a lot of joy and influenced youngsters all over the world.

 

6/22/14

In our early years in Covington, I kidded our pharmacist, Dr. Lanier Hardeman that I might as well bring my check to him each month. With our young children, we required a lot of baby formula and various pharmaceutical supplies each month. Dr. Hardeman was an older gentleman, probably in his late 30's, and he always had a smile on his face with a twinkle in his eyes. He was a very friendly fellow, and was well thought of throughout the county and state. His son was in my Civics class, so he always seemed to be especially glad to see me, but actually he was glad to see every customer that came thru the door. He made the mistake one day of asking me if He could do anything for our boys basketball team, and I was ready with an answer. I told him,"I would love to have some vitamins and chewing gum for my players,"which he provided for several years. My wife Jan would write little messages of encouragement and place them with the pack of gum in each locker with their freshly cleaned uniform. I remember one day one of our guys was chewing gum, and our Principal came to me to complain, and said,"your players think they are special," and he went silent when I said,"we work hard to make all of our players special." After several weeks of building a relationship with Dr. Hardeman something strange happened. One day he invited me into his little office and he said,"I have a major decision to make, and I would like to share my thoughts confidentially with you. A prominent pharmacist had been selling the state pharmaceutical exam and as President of the state board his influence would probably determine the penalty. As he talked and told about how that pharmacist had dedicated his life to being a success, I recognized the person that had broken the rules, and He said," I figured you might, being from that area." While most of us played and had fun in high school, this student spent every spare moment working in the drug store. I knew he wanted to leave the little mill town and make something out of himself. In short time he owned the drug store and a couple of other stores. But greed and a desire for just a "little more," led him to start selling the state license exam. Dr. Hardeman, a very gentle and compassionate man stated,"we have no choice, but to take his state license away and he will still have to answer to the court system of Georgia. Being that I was one of the newest teachers, I was awarded the honor of teaching 5 Civic classes a day. I wasn't very good early in the day, but by the afternoon I was pretty good. I had a young student in my first period class named Seaborn Hardeman, who I recognized rather quickly that he was brilliant. When someone would ask a tough question trying to show up a young teacher like me, I would say ,"that is a great question, Seaborn would you answer that question." Seaborn, with what I believed to be a photographic memory never failed to deliver the answer. You could see the same traits in him that his dad possessed. This student had success written all over him. After graduating from Vanderbilt University he was pursuing his medical degree in Texas. When he and two classmates were planning to attend a wedding, one of the other boys wanted to drive his Jaguar Sports car. The young driver was unfamiliar with the power of a jaguar at a high rate of speed, and lost control of the car as it went over a Galveston sea wall. All three young men were killed. This terrible loss of their outstanding son, who had so much potential, left a permanent scar on the Hardemans. I'm not sure I ever saw that same smile or twinkle in the eyes of Dr. Hardeman again. I later had their fine daughter, Sally in my class, and every day when I called her name, my memory went back to Seaborn. One day Dr. Hardeman told me ," if Pete" his nickname for his son, had been driving the accident never would have happened. I believe that Seaborn might have been the man that would have found a cure for cancer. What a tragic loss of a brilliant young man and two other talented friends.

6/21/14

We had a young guy on our '79 GWA championship football team. When you looked at this youngster, you wouldn't have seen a future in athletics. He was about 5'6" and weighed 112 pounds. In our entire season of play, his statistics showed one tackle assist. I once heard that he felt "picked on" during his freshman year on the football team. (When I see him now, I can't tell that any of our players damaged his good looks.) Something traumatic in his life occurred in his life the next year--his father died and he was hurting very badly. He had to be a man on their little farm, and it was frustrating for him. This young guy disappeared from our school. Every now and then we would hear something about him. Recently he got in touch with me, and related how proud he was to have been a part of our teams. We had planned to visit him and his family, at his ranch when we were in Dallas,Texas, for the Final Four, but he was in Florida filming a movie. Sometimes it is not easy to recognize eaglets early in their life. This young fellow spread his wings and became one of the most famous, all-time great football coaches--even if the outcome of his games is known before his TV presentation. Can you believe this young eaglet is now the famous KYLE CHANDLER, the coach on the TV series FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS? It is always a personal thrill, when we are at a UGA football or basketball game, and Kyle's picture is flashed on the big screen, and they list him as one of their famous former students!

6/20/14

One morning I was cleaning the gym floor and I heard sounds coming from our stadium. I looked out the window of the door and saw one of our most popular teachers and she was sobbing away. I went to her and said,"Granny, what's wrong?" She continued to sob and said,"nothing." I put my arm around her shoulders and said in a rather stern voice,"What's wrong with you?" She proceeded to tell me her story. Her eldest son had been gone from home for over a year. He had taken up with a girl and had adopted the "hippy life." He would call home ever so often wanting money, and they would send it to them. She continued,"We told him we were not going to send any more money, but we loved him--and if he would come home we would do anything to help him straighten out his life! I feel that I will never see him alive again. The lifestyle they have chosen will end their lives." I knew there was only one thing to help solve her problem, so I told her," I know someone that can help us, let's pray." So with tears flowing from our eyes, we asked God to heal this relationship, and bring her son home. Every month or so I would ask, Granny about her son, and she would tell me he called. "He would tell about the beads they were selling. Every time he called, I would tell him how much we loved him and we would and we would help him if he would come home." This went on for almost a year when one day her face was aglow with happiness. I asked her what was going on, she said,"My son has promised to come home. He said he loved us, that he was tired and wanted to give up his nomadic life, and, again,that he loved us." I asked about his female companion. She proceeded to tell me that he felt if they continued with their lifestyle, doing the things they were doing, they would both end up dead. She told me she was going to attempt to contact the girl. Granny said," I don't know how to contact the girl, but I know how to contact her mother."About a week later she came to the gym and told me more of the sad story. Granny had called the girl's mother and the woman told her," I don't ever want to hear that girl's name again, she has hurt us so badly that we have given up on her. Please don't call us again." Well, Granny's son came home and they began helping him to enter a new life. He wanted to get a job and maybe go back to school. He was on his way back--thanks to the love his family gave him. A few months later, Granny told me that her son had received the news that his "hippy companion" had died of an overdose of drugs. The point to be taken from this story is: WHEN WE HAVE FAITH AND LOVE, WE HAVE HOPE!

6/19/14

This is the third in a series about Loganville High boys basketball, and unless you are a relative, or interested in LHS, or connected to Coach Bradley's 50 year career, you probably want to skip this story. It is going to be loaded with names, statistics, and a few disappointments as we go on a journey to try and change a program that has had only one winning boys team in 32 years(a 13-12 record).If you read the first two posts, you remember the role that administrator Dan Digby, board member Coy Baker, and my quest to set up a retirement income, played a role in my coaching job in Loganville.Once I began my efforts to resuscitate the Red Devil program, two other key people were Linda Hobbs, and Ginger Stephens, along with many longtime supporters, and some outstanding young men. Loganville had already played a key role in my career as the first victory in our varsity basketball record of 1,372 wins came against them. Our biggest problem with their teams was how to get enough playing time for my starters to keep their averages up. By the end if the first quarter the guys on the bench would be leaning over staring at me, and so would their parents. Our first year at LHS we got off to a great win in the Jefferson tournament, which we won. After the game we celebrated with a meal at Golden Corral, and Wes Nash, who had made 16 of 18 field goal attempts, and scored 35 points told a teammate, " it's the first time anyone has had confidence in me, to let me shoot." With the Nash boys leading the way won 16 of our first 17 games and were ranked in the states Top Ten poll for the first time in school history. This was heady stuff as the crowds got bigger and bigger as a lot of old timers came out to see this miracle. When East Hall came to town it created such a stir that tickets were sold early and the game was televised through the lunchroom. After the Red Devils won the sub region tournament, once impossible dreams of going to the state tournament surfaced. Back then the state tournament only allowed 2 teams from each region. After a loss to East Hall, region 6aaa sent the same two teams as usual, the Vikings and Gainesville High. The '95 team finished with a record of 23 wins and only 4 defeats as Robbie Nash averaged 23.8 points per game and Wes cleared the boards with a 13.4 rebound average. One of the best statements came from one of the other seniors when he said,"we don't have to think of ourselves as losers anymore." With juniors Mike Dunn, Josh Mobley, Keith Wages, Ti Wilder and sophomore Travis Stephens returning, the future looked bright. Prior to the start of the next season two things happened two make basketball spirits soar. Our son, Bill Bradley joined the team as an assistant coach. He had been a very successful head coach elsewhere, but stated,"he wanted to study his Dad 's coaching up close." Something must have worked for Bill as he has gone on to win over 400 varsity basketball games with 3 state championships and one 2nd place finish. The other positive was when Zeb Reid moved to Loganville. I knew the first time I visited his house that he was smarter than me, and would make a great coach someday. Zeb had his girlfriend feeding him the ball and he was working on his moves. (I remembered I did the same thing with Jan, but I forgot to use a basketball.) The second year mirrored the first, as the Devils won 8 of 9 games including the Jefferson invitational. The team was once again ranked in the Top Ten poll, as Ti Wilder averaged 17.7 points and 13.4 rebounds. Other double figure scoring averages were posted by Zeb Reid's 15.8 , Mike Dunn 14.2, and steady Travis Stephens 12.7 average. The Red Devils finished with a fine 22-5 record, but were disappointed as they lost in the region semi-finals again. The two old traditional powers, with great coaches, left the Red Devils at home again. The 3rd year of the resurgence of the Loganville basketball program was creating a lot of excitement as the Devils won 13 of their first 14 games, including their 3rd straight Jefferson tournament, which provided some special drama.The Devils lined up in the hallway preparing to play the same team they had beaten for the 1996 sub-region title. One of the opposing players announced,"our coach says we can beat Loganville as bad as we want, and he is not going to take it easy on them." We played a great game in winning a sweet victory. One other big season highlight was beating East Hall on their home floor. It was the first time both of their teams lost on the home floor to a school in years. Coach Bill Bradley was not on the Devil boys bench, as he was the new coach piloting the girls program. After we lost again in the region semi-finals we finished with a 22-4 record. For the season Zeb led us with an average of 20.8 points, Matt Needham averaged 15.1 points and 11.7 rebounds, Travis Steohens 11.7 points, and a 6 foot 10, Croation transfer, Milo's Paravinja 14.5 points. Milo's first games after transferred in during the season he wanted to play guard, and after the game when we lost to a great Gainesville team, one of my old players, Bob Richardson, sent me a note that said,"coach, put that tall guy under the basket." After 3 years we had won 67 games and lost only 13 games, won 6 different championships, been ranked in the state's Top Ten poll each year and had a great time. I'll always regret that I couldn't help us get past East Hall and Gainesville, so our players could have experienced the state tournament. After three years I had reached my commitment to develop a winning Loganville program, and putting Jan and me in a position to buy back my retirement program. When it was time to leave the Loganville position, my wife, who was not happy said,"we are leaving Shangri-La again!"

6/18/14

This is a continuation of a story previously started. When Walton County Administrator, Dan Digby called me, and Coy Baker challenged me to come take the boys basketball job at Loganville High, the timing was right. I was ready to stop trying to coach several sports at a time, and get back to my first love-basketball. I also needed 3 years in a public school in order to buy back my retirement years from the Georgia Teachers Retirement System. When we began summer practice I was concerned about some of my ways, as I was coming from a small Christian school where prayer was not only allowed, but encouraged. The first day of practice someone came in to one of our players and Said,"your sister just swallowed a pin, and you need to come home!" Immediately Keith Wages said,"coach we need to have prayer together." At that point I knew I was somewhere special. After our summer practices ended,I could tell that we had some talent, and I was excited about our teams future. Then the real test began, school started. I had a student in my 2nd period class that refused to take part for the third straight day. I was trying to get him involved as it made others think they didn't have to participate. The unruly student looked at me while showing me his arms, and saying,"I'm on drugs, I've been in jail and I'll be back soon, and you can kiss my a--." I was shocked, so I called the principal and the student repeated the exact words that he had said to me. Our Principal looked at me, and said,"coach, you can't do anything with crazy people!" At the end of class, I called my wife, and said,'don't worry about being here 3 years, I'm not going to make 3 weeks." Our girls PE instructor had been observing the conflict, and before the next class, she came over to me. She put a firm hand on my shoulder, and said,"coach, you just need to get thru the day, don't worry about tomorrow, next week, or next year, just get thru the day. I found, over the next 3 years I could go to Linda Hobbs for advice and help. She was an excellent basketball player in high school, and had a thorough understanding of young people. I don't receive a retirement check today, that I don't think of Mrs. Linda Hobbs. One day I asked the brother of the unruly student what they would do with him if he still lived in Iraq. He said,"they would get rid of him, they wouldn't put up with his behavior." I couldn't talk to troubled student in class, he was too mucho, but anytime I had the opportunity , I would say positive things to him, about his talent, his ability, and would tell him," he could make something special out of himself." He disappeared from school, and one day his brother told me that the unruly student was back in prison. Several months later the young man that had harassed me, was waiting for me when the school day ended. He said to me,"coach, you told me I could make something out of myself, and I've decided I'm going to be a truck driver." Several months later, a big truck pulled up next to me, and a guy yelled out,"Coach, I told you I was going to make something out of myself." I had a hard time seeing, as my eyes became misty. Jan and I had decided that even if no one cared about basketball at Loganville, we did, and we were going to do the job in a first class way, even if we had to pay the bill. The places I had been, once the parents and community found that you cared about their children, they would step up and help.That fall we would have the players dress up in coat and tie, and take them to a nice restaurant. Some of the guys didn't possess a coat and tie, so we had to borrow some in order for them to join us. It was expensive, but I wanted to get to know each person, and find out what made them tick, and to let them know I cared. Long ago I found out you don't have to do big things, but the players need to think great things can happen if they are successful. They don't really care how much you know, until they know how much you care. One day a lady came to me and asked,"coach where are you getting the money that you are spending on our boys?" I told her that My wife and I believed that it helped to do things in a first class manner, and that we were paying for the things we were doing. That special lady was Mrs. Ginger Stephens, and she said,"I'll see that the booster club and I will supply the funds for you from now on, and she added, you are not going to have to pay your money on our boys anymore. When I left 3 years later ourbasketball account had plenty of money left in it, thanks to the leadership of Mrs. Stephens. Everything was in place to give our Loganville youngsters a chance to be winners. Tomorrow we'll have our final part of the Loganville story.

6/17/14

I retired 3 times for Jan and me to travel, and each time someone or something beckoned me back to teaching and coaching. There was only one job change that Jan objected to as she said,"that job was as close as I would ever come to duplicating our enjoyable years at Newton County And GWA. But, I'm getting ahead of a long story. A very persuasive and religious Dr. J.Y. Jones of Dublin, Georgia, convinced me to accept the challenge of making something out of their little school or helping to close it. I think a friend, Ron Riley had oversold him on me, as Dr. Jones said ,"he had prayed about it, and I was the man that they wanted. I have always loved a challenge, and I committed to a 5 year deal There was a very respected former coach and administrator that attended most of our Trinity practices named Bill Meeks and one day after practice he motioned for me to come to him. He said,"Bradley, you are near the end of your 5 years here and you need to go back to public school and after 3 years the State Retirement System will let you buy back your years so you and Jan will have a income in your later years. I went home and her first remark was," are you crazy?" Like magic, the next week a friend who was a Walton County Principal called, and wanted to know if I would consider coming back to North Georgia to coach. I had seen the Dublin school grow to around 400 students and I was aware that we liked to eat, and might need a retirement income one day. I drove in on a street named for a Coy Baker, and I was about to be challenged by him. After some preliminary conversation and expressing my salary needs, Mr. Baker, a member of the Walton County Board of Education, spoke up and said,"Before I die, I would like to see one good boys basketball team here at Loganville High School." I told them I needed a boys basketball account with a budget of $250, and any profit from tournament play needed to be put into our account. I could tell they were laughing at me and they realized that the team didn't play long enough to make a profit. They then shocked me when they told me they had only one winning boys basketball team in 32 years and that record was 13-12. Mr. Baker further said some people don't want a quality basketball program here, but as long as you don't break any school or GHSA rules you can do what you need to do to give us a winning program. Prior to our first practice I took the seniors out to a restaurant to eat and to challenge them for their support before we were to begin our summer workouts. One of the team leaders, Robbie Nash spoke up and asked,"are we going to be any good?" I told him if we worked and paid the price to be successful, we would win 20 plus games, and turn this program around. The guys sat there with wide eyes and seemingly deep in thought. I'll continue tomorrow with the second part of this long story.

6/15/14

Mothers and Dads are both very special, and if the love and respect is in your relationship, it should last a lifetime. If you are very fortunate, your parents are the only ones who will love you, more than they love themselves, for your entire life. Most of my parents life they worked at very demanding jobs in the cotton mill in order to support their family. Our life centered around the Church, our school, the mill store and a Sears-Roebuck catalog, the village, and of course the mill. My Mom was extremely religious and when any problem occurred, she would always say," God will take care of it." She was always right, but sometimes I was too stubborn to wait on Him. My mom always stayed busy doing something, and she always thought that idle hands were the Devil's workshop. I had an older sister, Margaret who tried to look after me, and later a younger sister named Carol that added much excitement to our life. I loved my family, but today's Father's Day. My Dad's other life beside the mill was baseball and later softball. It was always a thrill for me to ride the company truck with the team and hear their stories about life. They always sung, "show me the way to go home Lord,"and I still love that song today. In 1940 Daddy played in a game that set a world softball record, when they played the CCC men in a game that lasted 26 hours and 44 minutes. My Dad's Exposition Cotton Mill team lost by a score of 172 to 171 in 246 innings. Jesse Sluder pitched the whole game for my Dads team, and I still have the newspaper to prove it. I watched most of the game until my Mom made me lay down and go to sleep. I am thankful that my dad believed if you spared the rod, you'll spoil the child. Most of the things that last a lifetime, come with a cost. Many of my mistakes came with a whipping, and I deserved and earned each one. When I was 7 years old I decided to skip school and go down the street to a Hog Killing. They had only hung two hogs up when I heard my Dad's whistle, and I knew what that meant. It was about a half mile to school, and he must have said 10 times, your mother and I don't work in that mill for you to skip school and he hit me with his belt. Every now and then he would say something that I still don't understand,"this hurts me more than it hurts you," Huh. I never considered hooky as an option again. My freshman year in HS I went out for football, and the first day in pads was a day I'll always remember. I bent over to pick up a fumble, and our all-state linebacker hit me in the rear, and I was sure I would never be able to walk again. I struggled home to tell my Dad I was quitting football, it hurt too much. He said, boy did we buy you some football shoes? I said,"yes sir." He then said," you are going to use those shoes." If my Dad had let me quit football, I doubt that I would have lasted 50 years coaching young people. When I was 15 my family got a new car, and one of the first days I was determined to drive it to Jan's house to show off a bit. I was tooling along changing stations on the radio and I didn't see that big bus stop in front of me. I almost got around it, but scraped the new car's fender. After we got the damage appraised, my Dad looked at me and said,"I"ll have to work more than a day to pay that $26 bill. My dad said as long as I practiced, and played ball, I didn't have to go to work in the cotton mill. When my Dad was in the hospital with a brain tumor he told me that he had a cemetery lot, but he wasn't in a hurry to use it. During the surgery the doctor came out and said,"that if Daddy made it, he would require help the rest of his life. Daddy did what he always did, what was best for his family, he went home to be with his Heavenly Father. If your Dad is still alive, let him know that you love him, I promise you that one day you will miss him.

6/14/14

Sometimes we seek shangri-la even though we may not understand what it is we want. Then when we travel thru life we are so intent on looking thru the front window to the future, that we don't notice thru the back window that we may have already there.there. Back in 1951 our first experience with Newton County came in my sophomore year when we played in a basketball tournament in their brand new gym. I couldn't understand why anyone would build such a big, nice gym so far away out in the country. We lost partly because one of best players was barefooted and stepped on a stick and didn't play, even though we did have shoes back in those days. My next trip to Covington didn't come until my junior year when we lost to the Rams in football at Legion Field. They were loaded with Salty Prince, Wilbur Fisher, Jimmy Laster, and several other outstanding players. I noticed something that was to become a source of concern in our future. There was sawdust on the field and I couldn't understand why, but when you are getting your fanny kicked you don't spend much time worrying about what they put on the turf. That spring Jan was in Literary competition in typing and Trio which was held at NCHS. They let me go to carry Jan's typewriter. Come to think about it, the next year our Principal didn't think I was needed when Jan was in piano competition. That spring we had a baseball team that was loaded and it was inevitable that we would face a Ram team that was also loaded, led by a pitcher whose fastball was feared. Left-Bobby Hopkins was one of the States best, and they had a strong line-up with players such as, Jimmy Peters, Smitty Randall, James Cordell, Earl Stallworth, and Royce Davis. The Ram made a tactical mistake, when they saved Hopkins for the second game in which he shut the Avondale squad down. Again I was puzzled as to why they had sawdust on the field. Our team won the first and third games, and went on to a state championship. After graduating from UGA Mr. Homer Sharp offered me a position as a baseball-basketball coach. That spring when it came my responsibility to prepare the baseball field fit for practice I learned why sawdust was always on Legion Field. The County Fair and the circus was held each year on Legion Field, and you can imagine why they needed a lot of sawdust. I thought it strange when I tried to get volunteers to help me clean up the field. After trying to shovel, fork, and shove elephant crap off the field I could understand why none of my students would help. I had to resort to another tactic to get help. I would ask if any of the boys could drive a car? The older guys wouldn't dare raise their hands, but some of the youngsters would always smugly raise their hands. Then I would say, "anyone smart enough to drive a car can certainly handle a wheelbarrow. It wasn't just the sawdust, but the holes they left from the trailers that really presented a hazard all season. One of our players, who later became a prominent local politician told me we needed to weigh each player. I thought this was strange, then he said, if one of our players fall into a hole we'll know how much to scoop out. I could go on and tell you about the many great young people that we were blessed to have a chance to share their lives, but I'll save some of those stories for another day.
I will say those students and others made it a place of utopia.

6/13/14

Every new year brings athletic teams and fans hopes for a great season. All the teams start out undefeated, but very few stay that way very long. Things have changed in High School sports as some coaches have found it's easier to recruit, than to develop their own talent. In my 50 year career the dream was to win every game, but your head was usually smarter than your heart. We had some teams so strong that we could have sent the other team the final score before the game started. We also had some teams that when one of our players dribbled, I was afraid he would miss the floor. My 3rd year of coaching we had one of those great teams that won 29 straight and we were close to perfection. But that 1961 Newton county team lost in the state semi- finals.I'll tell that story another day. Then in 1965 we were coming off a State Championship season and had most of our team back. We had won 69 out of our last 70 games, we were on a 42 game winning streak, but once again fate dealt us a loss in the State Semi-finals (another long story for another day). Then in 1980 we knew we had a great George Walton Academy girls team that had it all. This is the story for today. This was one of those years where both of our teams were outstanding, but we knew in our boys league there was a team in our way that had an unbeaten string that eventually became the second longest winning streak in HS history. We had worked with this group of girls for several years in developing their skills. We had it all, this was to be the team that had a chance for perfection, I just had to be careful and not mess it up. We had fantastic parental support, we fed our team so often I was afraid that they wouldn't be able to jump. Everything was done to make them feel special. We had a starting line-up loaded with one of the most fundamentally sound and intelligent group of players that I had ever coached. We had 3 lighting-fast players that could play on any part of the court. Pat Bowick was a young lady that could make moves that I had never seen a girl player make. Kim McCullers was such a scorer that some nights she could score from the parking lot. Then there was Sandra Kitchens, one of my favorites because when she had the ball, I knew something exciting was about to happen for our team. Sandra was one of the most fundamentally sound players that I ever coached. On the inside we had our enforcers in Sheri Capes, whose Dad played and Mom cheered for the first team I coached over 20 years before and a very strong Shelly Van Brocklin, daughter of the famous Coach Norm Van Brocklin. We always put our players in a fine hotel for the state tournament so that we could try and control meetings, meals, and avoid any distraction that might handicap our efforts that had gone into this very special opportunity. Many times you can be sabotaged by things you can't control, such as jealous teammates or friends, grades, outside activities. etc. You realize you are close to something you'll never forget. The players think they are just having fun, but the coach knows the results are going to be there the rest of their life. We rolled into the State semi-finals with a 28 game winning streak, but facing a tough South Georgia team that had a reputation for chewing up the nice girls from up North. They had a girl that had a vicious reputation and I knew from scouting that she could destroy our girls by herself. We spent half the day showing lighting quick McCullers how she was to come off Van Brocklins' screen and a collision had better occur. I must have said it 10 times, "Shelly if you don't knock her butt off, you won't be on the floor tonight". That night when the girl ran into the screen that Shelly set, the outcome was settled. Some players enjoy hitting others, but don't think it is as much fun when they get hit. Finally, reaching a place in a career never reached before, negatives can be recalled.I remembered when our best player saw her boyfriend with another girl and cried all through our semi-final game and the utter humiliating meeting when the old woman coach said to me, "Sonny boy you had a pretty good team." I still remembered the terrible loss to our cross town rivals when I played in the HS finals, but the most recent was the night before when our twin sons lost to the team that was on the way to the 2nd longest winning streak in HS history. I had to leave the floor two times during our finals warm- ups as I knew that would be the last time I would ever coach our sons, Bill and Bob, who had brought so much pleasure to our lives. I realized our boys would be hurting with long faces, so I moved our girls team to a different hotel to create a happier environment. That night we lost to a team that we know we were better than. It was one of the most perfect games I had ever seen with neither team making mistakes. In the last minute of play we lost in a heartbreaking 48 to 46 score. Sometimes a player or coach doesn't realize how much a season means until it is gone. I would gladly work another year, without pay, to play that game over.

6/12/14

The 1966 Newton County seniors set a four year school basketball that is likely to stand for a long time. Wayne Hall, Bob Richardson, and Steve Smith's 4 year record of 131 wins and only 9 losses is amazing. During this period they never lost a home game as they added 68 wins to what later became a national record. Great teams not only in Georgia, but from other states wanted to be the team that ended the long streak. Their teams had 14 different championships which included a State Title and a state 2nd place finish. they were always ranked 4th or higher in the state's top 10 poll.The 1967 seniors actually won the same number of wins, 131 in their 4year career, but had 11 losses. Yogi Wilkerson and Eddie Hinton were the two seniors on those teams.This was during a period when it was a unique honor to put on a Ram uniform. The players were easily recognized as they wore one pound ankle weights most of the year. The training required such an effort that a player was never cut from the team. If a young man did what was required, he made the team. The spring, summer, and 8 weeks of fall practices were well organized to insure that the players were fundamentally sound and, well disciplined, and someone special. An administrator came to me one time and wanted to complain and said," your players think they are something special!" My answer was," yes we work hard to make them special." I always thought that every person should think they are special. Everything about the program was 1st class in the way they dressed, the way they traveled, the meals before and after games, and the places they stayed on overnight trips they took. The school body and local community thought nothing was too good for the boys that brought much pride to their community. Sheriff Odum escorted the team bus and stood guard at most all of the sell out games. You can be assured that Mayor Harris and any other important person were always in their seats at tip-off time. Wayne Hall was one the greats that led the Rams as he won numerous honors including being named All State two times. Wayne reminded his coach several times he only played in 7 losses as he was out with an ankle injury in losses to Griffin and Athens. Those losses were reversed later in the season with Wayne in the lineup. Bob Richardson was a small guy when he started out in our program, 7 or 8 inches later he was a big guy. Many thought I was playing favorites with Bob on the team,but his teammates knew better. (His dad was the County School Superintendent.) One day when he was late again his mother asked him why he was always late, and he said," Coach Bradley won't let me leave until he wins" Bob loved to play shooting games in which he was very good. The All Stater was always very respectful and well disciplined and it showed later when the town had a 45 year reunion for the team. Bob was with a group and he saw his high school coach coming, and he said, "I hope Coach doesn't tell us to run." One of the others said, "what are you going to do if he tells you to run?" Bob said,"I'm going to run." Steve Smith probably never got the recognition he deserved. He was an ideal teammate and well respected. If an award for the best effort in my 50 year coaching career was given, Steve Smith would have to be near the top. Steve caused me to do a lot of soul searching as he was an outstanding player and a great competitor, but he always played on teams that were loaded with talent. I had many lesser talented teams when I wished I had a Steve Smith, he would have been an all star as he led us. There must be something to be gained when you help hold a team up, instead of standing at the top. Steve has been a very successful business man, with a great family. In fact, all these three men have been very successful in their lives. They all are special!

 

6/11/14

Where I grew up in the Exposition Mill Village very few people had cars, and everywhere we went we had to walk. As you can imagine, my world was fairly limited to the mill village, & everywhere we went we had to walk or take the streetcar, but that cost a dime. (My family didn't have a car until near my 16th Birthday. (The exception would be when the village baseball or softball team would travel by company truck and I got to ride with them.) What a treat to see my dad play 1st base and then we would sing all the way back home to the village. My world changed one Christmas when Santa brought me a bicycle. Boy, was it special with the white side wall tires, a light for night driving, and bell to warn anyone that got in the way. Instead of being limited in my travels by my feet, I could now travel to areas I had never been. I felt free, and I was excited to see what was out there. The early problem I was that I was too short for the tall bike so I had to find a big rock to stand on in order to get up on the bicycle. I know this is where my wanderlust started. (Even today when a plane goes over or I hear a train whistle, I always wonder where it is going.) The end of the line street car barn was near us so one day I decided I would command a streetcar and go where the tracks would take me, but thankfully I couldn't find the contraption which made it go. The only other trip I tried to make was when our village baseball team was going to play a doubleheader in Chattanooga and I knew that the streetcar line ended at the Chattahooche so I talked a friend into walking the streetcar tracks to see the games. After a full day of walking we were very tired, disappointed & concerned when a guy at a service station explained to us that the Chattahooche River is not where Chattanooga was located. I still don't remember how we got home, but I remember my "fanny" stinging for a week. When Jan and I started dating one our favorite places to go was the airport where they would have a plane to come in every hour or so. After I had been coaching for 30 years, Brenda provided us with a magic carpet when she became a Delta Flight Attendant. I told Jan we were going to quit teaching/coaching and take advantage of the opportunity to travel. As always she was concerned about the money (in fact she told me recently if I die first she would bring with her any money that we had left.). She wants to spend her money, but she wants me to save my money in case she needs it. We had a couple of great years which are well chronicled on our web site. We had 5 free tickets each & we could also go anywhere as long as Brenda was with us, and if anyone told me they were on a trip with her you could be assured they would write a "good letter" (even if I had to write it for them) as it gave us another free trip. We became so spoiled that if we couldn't get in First Class we would wait on the next plane. Brenda went on to a new challenge, so we lost our wings, and I went back to working with young people. About four years later The Lord sent us another magic carpet when our son, Bill, went to work with American Airlines. He told us he was only going to be a flight attendant for a couple of years, as he wanted to teach and coach like his twin brother, Bob, and his daddy. We thought he might get over that so I left my job to pursue another love called traveling and seeing the world. Bill could sign a bunch of tickets and we could go where we wanted to go. We did things that are hard to believe, especially as tough as air travel is now. Space won't let me tell all, but we reached the point where one day our son Brad said,"Dad you are going to wear Mom out." Jan must have been concerned when I came up with a brilliant idea when flying home from London. I had the idea of catching a Korean Air flight in Chicago and going to the Olympics even though I didn't have any tickets or a place to stay. It's a good thing Jan went on to Washington to visit the grand kids as she would not have been a happy camper with our stopover in Tokyo. I couldn't get out of Tokyo that night and I had never heard of closing an airport so when they told me to leave I refused. In broken English the security officer said they would lock me in a room with a guard, but they would open up the airport in the morning and I could be on my way. After Jan heard about this trip she didn't utter a word on my weekend trip to go jogging in Mauri, Hawaii. Or when I told her I was going to Russia for a few days, or the day I told her I was going to fly to San Juan for some black bean soup. Every Christmas she would let me make a 3-day trip to Austria to tramp around in the snow. but the day I told her about a trip I wanted to make to New Zealand for 4 hours she was not happy. I had to explain to her on my stopover in Honolulu I would have time to go swimming at another famous beach. As she seemed to relax a little I told her I would need to go to Las Vegas to rest up. On our last trip from London I wrote Bill a letter that said,"If someone can enjoy these wings more than I, I'd love to meet him." Bill quit and has been a very successful teacher and coach for a long while. Some of our trips are detailed a little more on "Travels the Bradley way."

6/10/14

The picture shows our family that was the inspiration and support for my 50 year teaching and coaching career. It all started outside the Avondale theatre when I saw a 14 year old girl who had just moved in from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She immediately made my heart do flip-flops even though I had not met her yet. I soon found out she was everything I wasn't. She was pretty, intelligent, and she lived in a lovely home in Avondale Estates. I had never won a beauty contest, academics were something to keep me eligible for ball, and I lived across the tracks in the mill town of Scottdale.I was so impressed with this little girl that I asked my momma to buy me some deodorant so I wouldn't smell. On our first date she let me walk her home from our last football game of our sophomore year. God must have wanted me to remember that special night as I got a cut on my hand in the game that left a permanent scar on it. Jan contributed more to my career and life than their is space here to cover it, but I'll try to tell about why a lot of people didn't think our marriage had a chance. Jan tried to attend most all of our games, but this was in the day when most people didn't have cars and walked everywhere they went. She did numerous things to make my athletic efforts special. I remember our senior year the Atlanta Journal had a contest to select the most popular baseball player in the Atlanta area, and their was no doubt in her mind who that was. She organized our students and her neighborhood so that they would collect the daily ballots on which to vote and she would personally send them in for the month long contest. She never has been able to accept defeat and to this day she thinks we got rooked. We finished second to a guy that played shortstop for the Cleveland Indians. Jan even gets credit for my foot speed. Late each night when I would leave Jan's house I would have to walk down the railroad tracks. You would be surprised how a noise in the dark can remind you to work on your running.Our senior year was fun as I received scholarship offers from several schools. Coach Butts wanted me to play football at UGA , but I thought that I wanted a professional baseball career, so I accepted a baseball-basketball offer to become a Bulldog. Jan graduated as an honor student, and her family wanted her to take advantage of her intellectual skills by getting a college degree. Jan firmly stated that the only degree that she wanted was a MRS degree.That fall she got a job in Decatur as I headed out to Athens to compete with and against some other highly motivated guys. This was to prove to be tough as the last 3 years I had seen my heartthrob on a daily basis. My first English class taught me if I was to ever get a diploma from UGA I would have to have Jan's help. The athletic department had a rule if an athlete got married, tthey would have to wait a year to live with their spouse in Athens and receive full financial support.That summer I wanted to show Jan's parents how dependable I could be, so I went out and got a job to impress them. I was a stock boy in the mill store and they were going to pay me 25 cents an hour which I hoped to save to buy rings for Jan. Prior to going back to school we met with her parents and I told them I wanted to marry their underaged daughter. I emphasized that we had been courting for 3 years and I loved her. After they gave their approval I explained the UGA rules to them. They looked a little shocked when I told them Jan would live with them for the next year, but whenever I could thumb a ride to Avondale, I would come to see her. Jan's dad got up and said, "their mind is made up, so I'm going to bed." I though I heard him laughing as he went up the stairs. I had saved a lot of money from my store job so we caught a bus to go downtown in search of wedding rings. When I explained our plans to the clerk at Kay Jewelers she said,"I've got just the rings," as she reached thru some spiderwebs to the bottom row and pulled out a box. She said this beautiful pair will only cost you $99. I knew I had the right gal when Jan said,"oh, we could never afford that." The lady said,"honey we'll get you these rings even if he has to hock the car. I said,"yeah it's her car." I don't know why so many people didn't think our marriage would last very long. In the spring of my junior year three other married couples would join us each evening on the putting green at Stegman hall. All the wives, including Jan were very pregnant, but I always thought it strange that no other students ever joined in the fun. Just prior to our senior year our precious daughter Brenda was born. Our son Brad joined us two years later. Four years later I told Jan we needed one more child to make our family complete. Later when we were getting ready to go to the hospital to get our new baby, Brenda said,"I want a little sister, don't bring me a mean ole brother." So Her mother brought back two little boys-Bob and Bill. As we approach our 60th wedding anniversary we realize how much God has blessed us and thank Him on a daily basis. Even though this is on Jan's site, she has not seen or approved this post. I can't get my FB page to work.

6/9/14


Coach Billy B.C. Crowell was a giant of a man in Newton County where he influenced more young people than seemingly possible. His legendary life started in Porterdale, Georgia next to a baseball field where he learned the skills that led to a scholarship to Oglethorpe College. He excelled in baseball and football which later in his life led to his being named to the Oglethorpe Hall Of Fame. After a tour in the Navy he wanted to pursue his dream of playing for the NY Yankees. In his debut he was assigned ti the Lakeland Pilots in Florida. The next spring he worked out with the Yankees, and after watching Yogi Berra behind the plate he decided to go home and get a job. Mr. B.B. Snow jumped at the chance to hire B.C. as the AD at Porterdale School, to be in charge of all the athletic teams and the Village recreation program. In the early 50's he was instrumental in convincing the local officials to close the village high school and bus their students to the new school in Covington. This move was the impetus for Billy to continue his influence with the youngsters he had previously coached, but now he would be able to touch other youngsters from the rest of Newton County. He helped the various athletic teams in any way he was needed. if it involved young people Coach Crowell was part of it in some way. his effort and reputation led him to being involved in numerous activities throughout the County during his nearly 60 years of service. The renowned Darrell Huckaby, who grew up in Porterdale was quoted as saying, "B.C.Crowell was larger than life. He could have been a corporate executive, entrepreneur and made millions. he would have been right at home on the floor of the State Legislature or even the U.S. Senate, but he chose to stay in Porterdale and work with the young people." Darrell further stated that "he couldn't count the people whose lives were better because he did, but, I'm one of them." Billy contributed much to my career, not only in the outstanding athletes he brought, not just sent to our program. I don't have room to name all the ways he contributed to all our teams. He was a major part of our GWA state football championship. He influenced women's basketball nationally by convincing Betty Jaynes mother to let her play basketball. Betty led her Ram Team to the state finals in her senior season, but, her lasting contribution was starting the Women's Basketball Coaches Association which numbers over 6,000 today. When Coach Crowell lost a leg to diabetes, one of his protégés stepped up to keep Billy in a position to share his talents. Recreation Director Tommy Hailey made it possible for him to spend each day greeting the many people that came thru the Turner Lake Complex. This also kept B.C. close the expansive executive offices named for him that were loaded with his memorabilia. The fields named in his honor are also closeby. You can travel into Porterdale on a highway named for their favorite son.Coach Billy Crowell died in 2010 after a lengthy illness, but you can be assured that his 60 plus years of effort will live on in the lives of Newton Countians.

6/8/14

One of the most gifted athletes to ever play on one of our teams was Todd Whitsitt. It almost never happened due to a decision he was rumored to be considering. This is a story that I never tire of telling.The word had gotten to me that this very talented 9th grader was going to quit school. I went to Todd and asked if it was true? When he said "yes" I asked him why? He said, "Coach I'm bored."I reminded him how important an education was, and how talented he was, and what a great future he had in basketball and we needed him.He stared at me for a while and said "I'll think about it."I then asked him if he didn't have something he would like to do with his life, maybe some dream in the future. He shocked me when he said,"I think I would like to be a doctor."I almost laughed at him, here he was threading to quit school as freshman and saying he wanted to be a doctor. The rest is history, Todd went on to be one of the best players and was one of the most intelligent to ever play for one of our teams. In Todd's senior year he averaged 32 points a game which was the highest in my 50 year career. More important Todd led us to a 27-2 record and a State Championship as he received many individual awards. He was aided by fellow senior Randy Henderson who played on a badly sprained ankle. The starting underclass men were Brad Bradley, Tony Groves, and freshman Don Holder. Todd earned a scholarship to Lagrange College where he had a 4.0 average. Then he went on to Augusta Medical School where he also had a 4.0 average. One of his medical students said that Todd set the bar in all of his classes. Today about 30 years later cardiologist Dr. Todd Whitsitt has a large staff as he practices in Fort Collins, Colorado. I called him awhile back and asked him right before he takes a heart apart if he tells the patient he almost quit school in the 9th grade? He said "NO, they don't know me that well." I said "I do, Todd, and I'm proud of you."

6/7/14

These days it seems that we hear a lot about teachers, doctors, ministers, and others that stray away from their positions of trust. Many of our politicians say one thing and then do the opposite. one Man that I have known and respected for many years has always been trustworthy in his actions as a lawyer and judge. That man is MR. George Hearn who has earned great respect not only in his home county of Walton, but throughout georgia. Sometimes Judge Hearn has been known to answer a question in a way that may hit you between hit you between the eyes like a ton of bricks. After you get over the shock of his reply you usually realize that he was right. Mr. Hearn has lived a full and productive life with many contributions to society. It was largely thru his efforts and leadership that George Walton Academy came to be. GWA is now one of the great private schools in Georgia. George always said he outpunted his coverage when he married Betty, his longtime wife. She has always been at his side supporting him in all his ventures, although sometimes she had to hang on to his coattail to keep up. George has never been considered to be a dull man as he always had an answer ready for the situation. Several years ago he and our son Brad enjoyed a Bulldog victory over LSU on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge that called for a night on the town in New Orleans. Early the next morning George stumbled into the bathroom for a drink of water. Brad was already too late as he called out that his contacts were in the glass of water. George didn't miss a beat as he uttered that he now had 20-20 vision in his a--. Today Mr. Hearn is having some serious problems with his health, and needs our prayers. he is a tough guy and has great support from his loving family, but he is up against a tough foe. How about keeping him in your prayers. There are not enough George Hearns left that we can always trust to do the right thing. MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS YOU JUDGE HEARN. a lot of us love you and need you.

6/6/14

Tim Christian pictured here with his parents, Betty and Frank Christian,along with me, was probably the best and most decorated athlete in Newton County HS history. He was All State in all three major sports and was named one of the top ten basketball players in the U.S. which led him to be named to the All American team. The Ram teams he led never lost at home with a four year record of 125 wins and 9 defeats. They won 69 of the last 71 games in which he played. Tim went to Auburn where he starred as an All SEC receiver and later coached. He, along with classmate Linda Stephenson were two of the original 6 members that brought the Olympics to Atlanta. Tim also had two brothers, Greg and Wallace, who played for the Rams. Betty and Frank were life long friends of ours. Frank's word was his bond as he had a reputation for always doing what he said he would do. He thought that a good investment could prove to be better than a lifetime of toil.The advice he gave us is still very prominent in our lives. We are very fortunate that the Christian family was major part of our lives.

6/5/14

Not many people would have recognized how special Miss Mary Ellington was in her teaching career. We thought she was teaching verbs and nouns, but oh, she was doing so much more. She was preparing young students for greatness. Three of the most outstanding people that I have known give Miss Ellington credit for her assistance and financial support in getting a college education.In different places I heard firsthand about two mill town boys and a Snellville youngster that gave Miss Ellington credit for their opportunities. General Larry Capps headed up the Patriot Missile Program and later was Chief Executive for the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Dr. Marshal Edwards became one of the countries great Baptist ministers, and Dr. J Y Jones whose surgery talents have restored eyesight to literally thousands of underprivileged people all give Miss Ellington much credit for their success. I wonder how many others are out there that are thankful to Miss Ellington for her support?

6/4/14


If a person goes to Lawnwood Cemetery on highway 278 in Covington and wanders around you'll likely see a grave marker with a young basketball player on it. This is the resting place for one of the most outstanding players & fierce competitor that a coach could have. In the Porterdale Gym 56 years ago before an overflow group of mourners Billy Dean Rutledge's funeral was held. A blue and white bouquet of flowers with the words All Star and the number 13 was above the basketball goal.My wife Jan, with tears streaming down her cheeks whispered to me that she would never complain again about the time that I spent coaching young people.Out of respect for Billy Dean none of my players ever wore the number 13 during my coaching career in Georgia.

6/3/14

The efforts and passion of a dedicated number of young people and fans that loved the game of basketball set a national record that still stands 47 later. Many old timers remember the sell-out games that led to standing room only, the doors being chained shut, bars on the windows, in order to help limit the crowds. one student remarked that he didn't see the second half of the Price game because he got tired of holding on to the telephone pole.