By: Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Johnson Countys head football coach Don Kerley recently reminded me of something very important when it comes to high school athletes. Coaching is more than just wins, Xs and Os, said Kerley. Its about molding these kids into good men. We want to give them something to remember besides football. And it all starts with sportsmanship. If they can learn that then the rest will take care of itself.
I agree with him on his assessment. I saw sportsmanship and character on display over the weekend.
It took place on Saturday night inside of Ray Shoun Gymnasium. Hampton was playing Tennessee High in the Hall of Champions game.
On any given night the Vikings would probably be favored. But this wasnt any given night. It was a night where the Bulldogs blew out a school over twice their size. And they did it with six sophomores on the roster.
One of those talented sophomores is guard Charlie Butler. At a lot of schools he would probably find himself getting some playing time. But hes down on the totem pole on the Bulldogs roster of 15. They return almost everyone from last years 30-6 squad. Most of Charlies minutes will come on the junior varsity.
Former Hampton player and now Tennessee High assistant coach Neil Phillips said it best. They would be good in anyones league, said Philips. Theyre well coached with a lot of talent. Those kids can play.
Head Coach Ned Smith
Its well known that Elizabethton wanted to hire Smith to become their head basketball coach before Lucas Honeycutts came on the scene. And who can blame them? Smith is more than just Xs and Os. Hes a good family man. Hes a role model too.
The name C.G. Hall might not ring a bell to some people but it should if you been around Little Milligan athletics over the past five or six years. C.G. Hall is Charlie Butlers grandfather. He served as an assistant coach for former Johnson County head coach J.R. Campbell who guided the Buffaloes.
He and his wife Diana have raised Charlie in a good home, full of love. I remember Hall bringing him to the gym in the third grade, when Charlie was no taller than a grasshopper. And what transpired on Saturday brought tears to nearly everyone who knew what was going on.
C.G. loves the Little Milligan community. He also has a passion for the Buffaloes and Bulldogs basketball teams. He admires principal J.R. Campbell but Jesus, his wife Diana and Charlie are priority, in that order.
C.Gs bucket list included seeing Charlie play at the varsity level for Hampton. And Smith made sure that it happened against the Vikings.
Butlers name was introduced in the Bulldogs starting lineup. The feeble Hall, who sat at courtside in a wheelchair smiled when his pride and joy took the floor.
C.G was refereeing basketball games back in March at a fundraiser that was benefiting a cancer patient. I never saw Hall that he wasnt going full speed.
C.G. Hall and his wife Diana became friends of mine several years ago. He would always compliment my stories and encourage me to write more.
Hall was elated when I told him the story of how I became senior pastor at New Hope Ministries in Elizabethton. We held our first service in February of 2014. It consisted of nine people huddled together, a small propane heater and a ton of faith.
Today we have renovated that same building on the inside into a country church setting with the help of people like the Hall family. And were nearly to the 50 mark during worship service.
I mention this because C.G. and Diana began sending New Hope Ministries a love gift back in February. It comes every month in the mail. I recall Halls words when I gave him the grand tour of our church.
I believe in what you all are doing, said Hall. I can feel His spirit in this place.
He had a songbook in his hand, singing a hymn in which I joined in rather softly.
Hall told me that day that he wanted to make a difference.
Because of his gift and a lot of prayers, three people, including my oldest son have accepted Jesus Christ there.
Referee Butch Patterson asked me if that was the same man sitting in a wheelchair at courtside that he was used to seeing at all the Hampton basketball games. I paused, hoping to find the right words.
His health and appearance has changed, I replied. But he still loves watching Charlie play and Hampton High School basketball.
If anyone should ask, who was C.G. Hall?
Tell them to read the above.
Tim Chambers is a sportswriter for The Tomahawk and can be reached by email at [email protected]