Tennessee Revisted……. Nurturing The Basketball Legacy
“It is a mistake to look too Far ahead. Only One Link of the Chain of Destiny can be handled at a Time.” Winston Churchill
In November 1971 my father, a Pastor moved back to Chattanooga, Tennessee. We originally left Chattanooga in November 1965. Chattanooga progressed tremendously from the southern segregated town that we left in 1965, six years earlier. Desegregation of the public school system was implemented and was in full effect and the face of the Chattanooga Public School system had changed for the better.
I was in my senior year of High School. I tried out for the Varsity basketball team at Chattanooga High School. I made the team, however I was far behind in learning the plays, I was in a transition of sorts, I only needed few credits to graduate and only needed to take three courses to graduate, because Louisville schools were much more advanced than the Chattanooga School system could only hope to achieve. I decided against playing basketball and got a job. My goal was to save money and attend college at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tn.
It was an interesting time for me, however it was a sad time to leave my friends at Shawnee High School in Louisville, Ky. The first day that we moved back to Chattannoga, I met with the Principal at Riverside High School. After learning that I was very interested in studing Journalism, he felt that Chattanooga High school would be a much better choice for me.
It was a fairly new school and I liked the atmosphere. It was a newer, cleaner school. I met with the teachers and the basketball coach and he offered a ride every morning along with the other players. I practiced with the team. I decided not to play basketball and concentrate on my classes. I had a good deal. I completed my classes everyday at 12 noon.
The competition in Chattanooga was decent, but most people in pick up games were not that good compared to Louisville’s talent. It was a good interlude between my graduating from high school and my transition to East Tennessee State University and my Freshman year.
The highlight of my first year at East Tennessee State was basketball intramurals. I organized a team of freshmen and seniors. Our colors were Purple and Gold, which were the same colors of Omega Psi Phi Franternity, which I would pledge and make the frat in the spring of my Freshman year.
I recruited Ken Gator, 6-1 freshman football player, Mike Beattie, 6-3 Senior, from Knoxville, Tennessee, Don Tester, a 6-4 Center from Bristol, Tn, Eddie Debro, a 5-11 Freshman, from Knoxville, and myself Charles Jenkins, 6-0, Freshman, Chattanooga, Tennessee ( by way of Louisville, Ky).
We went on to win 12 straight games and we were forced to play the United Black Students in the Championship games, both teams were undefeated.
The United Black Students were loaded with former ETSU basketball players……………………
Lynn Ring 5-10, Washington, D.C., Dennis Griffey 5-10, Harlan, Kentucky, Tim Fleming 6’6, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Bob Hall 6-4, Roanoke, Va, and James Plummer, 6-0, Ferrum, VA.
We played the United Black Students, all former players in the championship game. The score was 62-54, United Black Stuents won.
We had a great intro music, using Curtis Mayfield’s music. The gym was rocking. Music tracks- Pusher Man, We’re a Winner, Move on Up.
(To be continued- be sure to check back!)