When one mentions the name "Coach McPhee" in Rome, many will say that he was great coach and principal and also an exceptional athlete. During his years coaching and educating in Rome, he molded the lives of many. Richard Henry McPhee (Dick) began his career with the Rome City Schools in 1947 and retired in 1975. During his time in Rome, he was a history teacher and a coach, and served as principal at East Rome Junior High and later principal at West Rome High School for 14 years.
According to McPhee’s family, he believed in good nutrition, working hard and practice practice practice.
Not only was McPhee an outstanding coach, he had an exceptional athletic career at the University of Georgia. He played four sports as a as freshman including football, basketball, baseball, and track. McPhee was also the starting fullback for UGA in the Orange, Rose and Sugar Bowls and was named MVP in the 1946 Sugar Bowl. The 1946 team was undefeated and coached by Wally Butts. He was a member of Georgia's 1942 "Dream Backfield".
While in service, McPhee played for the Army as linebacker. After his 4th year at UGA, he was drafted by the RAMS in 1944.
McPhee passed away in 1995, but will forever be remembered by those he coached and educated.
He was an athlete until the end.... biking, jogging, and swimming daily. He always said... "If you have your health... you have everything."
In 1947 Alex Mills was named “Most Likely to Succeed” of the Concord North Carolina High School graduating class. He has definitely accomplished a great deal of success since his first job as a newspaper carrier in Concord, North Carolina, in 1938 at the age of nine.
Mills moved to Rome in 1955 to serve as the Executive Director of the Rome Boys Club. With an impressive 55 years of service to youth, he has transformed into an icon for the Rome Boys and Girls Club. Mills served as executive director for an impressive 37 years and as Director of Development for three years before retiring in 1996. Since retirement, he continues to serve youth as a volunteer. Mills has touched the lives of more than 28,000 youngsters in Rome and Floyd County.
Prior to moving to Rome, Mills served as the Program Director of the Concord, North Carolina Boys Club and pastor at Tillery Baptist Church. While at the Boys and Girls Club in Rome, Mills pioneered youth athletic programs in Rome and Floyd County and shaped the lives of many through involvement in football, basketball and wrestling at the boys club. In 1955, he founded and organized the nationally recognized Boys Club Choir which was active until 1989, that traveled over 67,000 miles, and visited 23 states and two Canadian Provinces. In addition, Mills served on the National Board of Directors for Boys Club of America. Mills also designed and constructed 10 Christmas Floats for The Rome Christmas Parade. He is a charter memberships in several organizations including the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Council and Citizens Council for the Arts.
With Mills interest in youth, it was only fitting that he join the Rome Noon Optimist Club in 1955. He is also a charter member of the Civil Air Patrol was the only chaplain among the charter group.
In addition to his work with Boys and Girls Club, Mills has been called on to perform ministerial duties including wedding and funerals and can be found volunteering in some capacity each Sunday morning.
Mills has been recognized by numerous organizations in Rome and Floyd County for his work with youth. In 1979, he was honored by Rome and Floyd County with “Alex Mills Day”. It’s only suiting that he be honored for shaping the lives on so many in Rome and Floyd through his work with athletics at the Boys and Girls Club.
After graduating with honors from Central High School in Fayetteville, TN, Jerry Shelton made his way to Rome in 1954 to attend Berry College. As a student he played varsity basketball all four years, adding baseball to his schedule as a senior. He also served as the Varsity Club President during his junior year and the Sports Editor of the Cabin Log Yearbook during his senior year.
After graduating in 1958, with a Bachelors Degree in Social Studies and a minor in Health and Physical Education, he began a very successful and gratifying professional career at Berry Academy. Until 1965, Jerry served as the Athletic Director, head basketball and baseball coach, as well as teaching physical education and American Government. During this time his basketball team went to the GHSA Class A State Tournament four times and won the Holiday Festival Basketball Tournament in 1964. During the years of 1965-1967, Jerry worked at Berry College as the director of intramural athletics, the assistant basketball coach and head baseball coach.
In 1970, Jerry began his 29 tenure as a professor and administrator at Floyd College. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties, he began directing high school basketball tournaments. Dedicating his nights and weekends for 22 years, he was involved with all GHSA Basketball Tournaments with the exception of 5A Boys.
Through the eyes of a statistician, Jerry directed more than 255 tournaments, totaling more than 870 games, with an estimated attendance of over 700,000 fans, and supervising over 10,000 workers, which estimates into 2.5 years of his life.
In addition to his full time responsibilities at Floyd College, and his devotion to high school basketball, Jerry served as an administrator of the National Youth Sports Program. Under the supervision of Mr. Shelton, the program began at Floyd College in 1972, as a partnership with the federal government and the NCAA, providing youth from low-income families the opportunity to enhance their lives through academics and athletics. For more than 30 years, Floyd College provided more than 10,000 children with free educational and sports instruction, medical screening, meals and transportation. Jerry’s influence did not stop in Floyd County with the NYSP, he also served as a National Evaluator, spending 8 summers traveling through 28 states and visiting 120 institutions. Jerry Shelton has been recognized by numerous organizations for his professional and civic contributions. He has spent a life time giving to students, athletes and the community. Jerry once said, “Teaching and coaching has been my career, my hobby and my passion, and I’ve enjoyed every moment.”
Jim Van Es
Jim Van Es began teaching math and coaching basketball at Darlington in 1968, and throughout his tenure, he has demonstrated his versatility coaching boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball, boys’ and girls’ junior varsity basketball, varsity football, and varsity baseball. As a basketball coach, he has led ten teams to the state tournament and one team to the Final Four. For his dedication to coaching, He was recognized by Scholastic Coach Magazine with a National High School Basketball Coach Gold Award in 1989. Jim is also a member of Franklin Select Circle of High School Coaches. Van Es is a two-time Northwest Georgia Coach of the Year, and has also been recognized as Coach of the Year by the Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a Masters in Education from the University of Tennessee.
While at Darlington, Van Es has received the Oscar Betts Master Teacher Award, the R.M. Yankee Teacher Award and is a two-time recipient of the James Douglas Brown Jr. Faculty Award. He has also appeared multiple times in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.
Van Es has been recognized for his teaching and coaching because he inspires his students to succeed. Stephanie Hunt Stevens, Class of 83’ says five words come to mind when she remembers playing basketball for Coach Van Es. Those five words are, “You can be tired tomorrow”. Stevens says, in many ways those words sum up the influence Coach Van Es played in her life as well as thousands of others who learned from him.
“You can be tired tomorrow” means you persevere. There is value in hard work. It means the greatest self-esteem comes not from others praising you, but rather realizing your own potential. Stevens says she has remembered the lesson Coach Van Es taught her to help her live a life that matters. Jim Van Es has taught and coached for over 40 years and currently serves as the Director of Middle School where he teaches math and coaches Boys Varsity Basketball. From teaching to coaching, Van Es seeks not only to instruct, but to inspire. In the words of his past student and player, Chris Jefts, “Coach Jim Van Es was an educator by example in the disciplines of perseverance, teamwork and unfaltering loyalty. His halftime ‘Never Stop Dreaming’ speech that he delivered to his players, no matter what the scoreboard might have read at the buzzer, is still an influence in my life today.” Fully two-thirds of Jim’s life has been devoted to young people both students and athletes where he exercises his wonderful gift of gaining student respect through lofty expectations in the class room and in the playing arena, but he achieves this respect without intimidation and as a result his students and athletes strive to be the best.
Dwight Henderson, has spent a lifetime developing the lives of many young people in our community. His coaching record is enviable and his character is impeccable.
Henderson first came to Rome in 1972 to attend Berry College on a Track and Field Scholarship. At Berry, he was either All District or Conference in the 100 yard dash – 400 relay-long jump as well the triple jump. He is still the record holder in the Triple jump and the Long Jump. Henderson earned a degree in Physical Education and History while at Berry. He then completed his Masters degree and Specialist degree in High School Administration at Jacksonville State University.
Henderson has coached in the Rome City Schools for 29 years as a Football, Basketball, and Track coach at East Rome and Rome High School. The last 19, he served as the Head Boys Basketball Coach. He won 2-State championships in Basketball in 1989 and 1991 and 2nd in State in 1998. From 1987-1999, his Rome High Team compiled a record 3 years undefeated stretch at home.
Henderson has been recognized on numerous occasions for his coaching talent. He is a two time State Assistant Football coach of the year in 1977 and 1979 and a two time state Basketball Coach of the year in 1989 and 1991. He is a five time North West Georgia Tip off Boys Coach of the Year. He has spoken at the Colonnade College Coaches Clinic as the only High School Coach – joining College Coaches Isso, Calhoun, Krzyzewski and Donavan. What Henderson is most known for, is the fact that he has had the most wins of any basketball coach in Rome City Schools history. He’s won a record nine Rome News Christmas Boys Basketball Tournament Championships.
He had nine consecutive 20 win seasons from 1989 to 1999 and 12 total. Henderson is one of the only coaches in Georgia to win a Region or State Championship in class A-AA-AAA and AAAA as a head coach. His final record stands at 395 wins and only 116 losses. In 2004, Henderson was recognized by Ronald J. Wallace, Mayor of the City of Rome on behalf of the Rome City Commission as the “Winningest Boys Basketball Coach ever at Rome High School as well in the Rome City Schools.”
Henderson is without a doubt the most accomplished high school basketball coach in the storied history of high school basketball in Rome, Georgia. Henderson is a man of principle that leads with honesty and character – steadfast in over 4 decades of making a difference in the lives of so many in the community.
Coach Hyder taught math and coached football and baseball at West Rome High School. In his first year, he coached his baseball team to the state championships and then took over as head football coach. His record as a football coach was 53-13-3 and he held a record of 124-67 as a baseball coach. He left West Rome in 1974 to become head football coach at Valdosta.
But Nick Hyder didn't just arrive at Valdosta, he'd already established himself as a hot property while at West Rome High School. HE turned down several offers while coaching at West Rome (he once said that Clarke Central High in Athens “almost opened up the bank” to get him) before finally agreeing to move to Valdosta. He was finally convinced to do so by legendary coach Wright Bazemore.
At Valdosta, Coach Hyder’s record was 249 wins, 36 losses, and 2 ties. His winning percentage was .871. His Valdosta teams won 7 state championships and 3 national titles. Coach Hyder was named Georgia Coach of the Year seven times and was named National Coach of the Year in 1994 by USA Today. He was the first Georgia high school football coach to win 200 games in 20 years and the first to win 300 in 30 years. The Atlanta Falcons considered hiring him as their coach at one point.
His career record as a high school football coach was 302-48-5. His accomplishments led him to be inducted into the Carson-Newman College Hall of Fame, the Valdosta-Lowndes County Hall of Fame and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hall of Fame.
Nick Hyder’s career was cut short when he suffered a heart attack in the school cafeteria and died on May 16, 1996. After his death, the “Nick Hyder Football Classic” was held in his honor for several years at Barron Stadium. The Valdosta High football stadium was renamed in honor of Hyder and Coach Bazemore from Cleveland Field to Bazemore – Hyder Stadium.
Some people today would call Coach Hyder tough. What he was, though, was firm in his beliefs - and consistent. He had his priorities, he let everyone know what they were, and he lived his life accordingly. “A lot of people have rules and a playbook,” he said. “We have a priority system. Number one is our Creator; Number two is family; Number three is academics; Number four is friends; and Number five is the Wildcats.”
In 1953, Mr. Selman joined the Armuchee High faculty as a math teacher. He inherited the varsity girls basketball team in mid-season. In 1954 he led that team to the final tour in the state playoffs, a first for Armuchee High. That was the beginning of many championship teams in his 27 years of coaching.
By 1955 he was coaching every basketball team at the school, for a total of six teams. The 1955 varsity girls were in the state finals for two consecutive years. His teams challenged several times for state championships and several players were accorded all-tournament and all-state honors.
Mr. Selman also coached girls softball. His girls softball teams were champions for seven consecutive years. Mr. Selman has been recognized for implementing coaching techniques that were way ahead of his time. His players learned all the fundamentals enabling them to make all the plays and to hit the ball better than other teams.
He coached a high school girls softball team that won every first place trophy that could be won for six consecutive years. They won the Northwest Georgia Invitational for five consecutive years (the only team to accomplish this). This same team also won two back-to-back games, 69-2 in two innings and 72-3 in three innings. His many supporters claim this is a world record. As athletic director at Armuchee, Mr. Selman formed the school’s baseball team, football team and several other minor sports.
After retiring from Armuchee in 1980, Mr. Selman coached golf at Riverside Military Academy, where they had the best record in school history, going to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
Due to overwhelming support in the community and the impact that Mr. Selman has had on so many people’s lives, Mr. Selman has been honored many times for his work. In 1963, Mr. Selman was honored for his coaching and named Mr. Floyd County. In 1994, he was awarded the Armuchee High School Lifetime Achievement award. In 2011, the North Floyd Park baseball complex was renamed to the Hugh Selman Baseball Complex.
In addition to teaching, coaching, and mentoring, Mr. Selman was also a leader in the military, and gave 38 years of military service.
Mr. Selman is beloved in our community. He is known for his compassion, his wisdom, and his kindness to all people.
Beasley recorded his 500th win on March 8, 2014 in a 6-2 victory at Sewanee since he took over the reins of the Berry College baseball program in 1998. David Beasley has had the most wins of any coach in Berry’s school history. Under Beasley, the school has only seen two losing seasons and those were in the transition years form NAIA to NCAA Division III. He has the only NAIA World Series appearance in the school’s history for baseball with a 4th seed ranking in 2009.
His players are a testament to his leadership: 12 All Americans, 9 Academic All Americans, 40 players have gone on to coach in high schools, 6 players are coaching in colleges and 14 players have signed to play professionally. He lives out the mission that athletics is both about the love of a game, but even more importantly, a way to teach young men how to become adults with integrity, care and compassion for their fellow man, and doing and being their best. He doesn’t accept excuses from his players – he expects them to perform at their best in the classroom, on the field and in the community.
One of Coach Beasley’s players said this about his coach, “Next to our fathers and grandfathers, no figure had as much potential to mold and shape our morals, work ethic, and drive more than David.” This speaks to the 98 % graduation rate of players under Coach Beasley. The lone non-graduate under his tenure is Collin McHugh who was drafted his junior year and is currently still playing professionally.
Collin says this about his coach “ I am happy to report that I am both better as a ballplayer and as a man for playing under Coach David Beasley.”
Under David’s leadership, he has raised money to light the baseball field, build a press box and concession stand and is currently raising money to build an indoor hitting and pitching facility. In 2012 he was promoted to Assistant Athletic Director and responsible for athletic department fundraising, the Berry Booster Club and the Berry Hall of Fame. In addition, during the off season, players from kindergarten to high school can participate in David Beasley Baseball Camps on the Berry College campus. The camps teach players intensive skill development in all areas of playing a position, throwing and hitting.
Winslette is best known for his career as the West Rome High School head coach who went 15-0 in 1985 and won the State AA Championship.
Charles Winslette led the Chieftains from 1985 – 1988 and posted a record of 36 wins, 11 losses and 1 tie. During 1985, his team was the only AA team in the nation to be ranked in USA Today; they also had 11 consecutive defensive shutouts.
During his 41 years - seven as an assistant coach and 34 years as a head coach - his record was 311-143-5. Including his 1985 West Rome team, he took a second State Championship in 1993 with Greene – Taliaferro. That makes him 1 of only 14 coaches in the history of Georgia High School Football to win a State Championship at two different Georgia high schools. He was honored as the Head Football Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Touchdown Club, Athens Banner Herald, the Statesboro Herald, the AJC and Macon Telegraph, to name a few.
As a head coach, Winslette has had victories at over 111 different high schools, which ranks number 2 in all-time state history. Currently he is number 21 on the list of all time wins by High School Head Coaches in Georgia. In 2006 he was inducted into the Fayette County High School Athletic Hall of Fame, and in 2013, he was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Today his serves the GACA as a Professional Learning Units Coordinator and is also a member of the GACA Hall of Fame Committee. Coach Winslette is respected through the state of Georgia as a leader of young men, a winner and a mentor to all.
A lifetime native of Rome our next inductee has influenced the lives of hundreds of young men and women in very positive ways. Andy Akin began his career as a graduate assistant for the University of Alabama’s women’s basketball team; this was just the beginning of an almost 35 year career.
From 1979 – 1981 he was the assistant coach at West Rome High School, and from there, he returned to his alma mater at East Rome as the head boys basketball coach from 1983-1987. During his time there, he had three Sweet Sixteen, 2 Elite Eights and one Final Four appearances. From there he continued his success at Model High School leading the girls basketball team to 5 Sweet Sixteens, 3 Elite Eights and 2 Final Four appearances as well as 1 State Runner up title.
After that time, Andy enjoyed some of the most fun coaching his twin girls’ teams in both soccer and basketball. He returned to high school coaching in 2008 as the Model High boy’s basketball head coach and led his team to another State Tournament appearance.
One of Andy’s favorite tournaments is the Rome News-Tribune Seven Hills Rotary Holiday Festival Basketball Tournament. He has attended the tournament as long as he can remember and won 5 Gold Ball Championships. Andy has also been named Northwest Georgia Tip-off Club’s Coach of the Year four times.
Andy would say that he values the relationships with his teammates and players far beyond any accolade that could ever be given. He says that’s the real reason you coach!
Mike Hodges is best known for his 53-6-1 record during 5 seasons at West Rome High School. Mike Hodges led his team to back to back state championships in 1982 and 1983; he went 15-0 both seasons. A graduate of Emory University in 1971, Hodges planned to attend dental school until his high school coach Ray Lamb asked him to take a teaching job in Commerce and try coaching. He taught science and coached football, girls basketball and baseball. Hodges said “I fell in love with coaching” and his outstanding career began.
In 15 seasons, Hodges produced a combined record of 149-35-3. His teams won three state titles, six region championships and he lead his teams to the semifinals seven times. He never had a losing season as a head coach. He was named State Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Touchdown Clun in 1978, 1982 and 1983. In 1988 he received the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Coach of the Year Award.
In 2012, Hodges was inducted into the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. He was recognized for not only for his outstanding record, but because of his service and dedication to make a difference in the lives of thousands of student-athletes.
As a player, Will Muschamp earned his way from walk-on to a scholarship player by the spring of his redshirted freshman season at the University of Georgia. In 1993 he earned a spot on the SEC Academic Honor Roll and in 1994 received the Scholar Athlete Award from the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame. After graduating from Georgia in 1994 he immediately began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Auburn. After earning his master’s degree in 1996 he worked as a secondary coach at West Georgia and Eastern Kentucky before moving into his first defensive coordinator position at Valdosta State in 2000, after a 10-2 record and a Gulf South championship with the Blazers, he began his first full-time coaching experience in the SEC at LSU. In four of his nine seasons as an FBS defensive coordinator, his teams allowed less than 100 rushing yards per game and twice led the nation in rushing defense. In 2003 his LSU defense lead the country by allowing 67 yards per game on the ground, the best mark by an SEC in the 2000s while Texas gave up just 73.1 yards on the ground in 2009. During this time he coached in two national championship games, winning with LSU in 2003. With 16 years of coaching experience under him, Muschamp took over the reins as head coach at the University of Florida in 2011. He led the Gators to three bowl games in his four seasons and was recognized as the SEC Coach of the Year in 2012 after an 11-2 record and top 10 finish. In 2015, Muschamp became the 34th head football coach at the University of South Carolina. In his six years as a head coach, all in the SEC, Muschamp’s record is 43-32, a .573 winning percentage. With a 15-11 mark at South Carolina, he has matched Joe Morrison and Steve Spurrier for the most wins in their first two seasons at the helm.
Sally Rush Echols
Currently holding the title of the winningest coach at Model High School, Sally is in her 17th year of teaching and her 14th year as head coach of the Model Blue Devils basketball program. While attending Model High School from 1994-1998, Sally lettered in five sports while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and graduating Salutatorian of her class. She played basketball under Coach Andy Akin and was team captain for three years. She holds the career assist record at Model at 440. She continued playing basketball at North Georgia College where she was an Academic All-American and team captain. While her statistics are impressive, her career as a teacher, coach, and mentor sums up the humble leader that Sally is to her students and athletes. Each year she and her team work with over 150 girls from kindergarten to eighth grade, teaching them about basketball at their annual Big Blue Basketball Camp.
Dr. Gary Graves
Immersed in sports growing up, Gary lettered in baseball, basketball, football, tennis, and track while attending Coosa High from 1966-1970. He played football for the University of Southern Mississippi for three years and later played football for Carson Newman College. Gary received his Master’s Degree from Jacksonville State University. His career was spent coaching young boys and teen athletes in football, basketball, track, and golf and he served as Athletic Director at Coosa High from 1984-1992. From 1992-2006, when he retired from teaching, he was Assistant Football Coach, Head Football Coach, and Athletic Director at Adairsville High and received the honor of Regional Athletic Director of the Year twice. Gary began pastoring churches in 1985 and received his Doctorate of Ministry from Covington Theological Seminary in 2008. He is currently the pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Rome.