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Interview with Bill Bost

Bost, Bill
Grundy, Pamela
Date of Interview: 
Basketball; High school basketball; girls' basketball; Catawba County, NC; Coaching; gender; Gender and sports; organized sports; Sam Ranzino; Everett Case; Claremont, NC.
Former player, coach, and educator Bill Bost discusses his personal experiences with basketball. Living and coaching in Catawba County, NC, Bost explains the pivotal role basketball serves in a small-town atmosphere, where players and spectators alike turn to it as one of the few forms of entertainment. Even with strong ball team rivalries, he contends that high school basketball games also help maintain cohesiveness within his community. He talks about the long tradition of basketball excellence in Catawba County and for that credits winning teams, continuity of competent coaches, and the creation of a sense of excitement. A coach of many accomplished girls' teams, Bost challenges the gender conventions surrounding young women and athletics. Despite the stereotypes, he argues that girl basketball players possess tremendous stamina, are accurate shooters, and are more attentive to coaching than boys. Bost talks about the influence of television sports on young athletes, especially young men, who imitate the playing styles of professional athletes. Likewise, he shares his coaching philosophy and outlines the importance of fun, athletic conditioning, and discipline. He also discusses basketball's meaning in the life-education of players and student athletes' roles as leaders in school settings.
Interview Setting: 
Interviewed at his home, Catawba County, NC
Levine Museum of the New South, Basketball Series
Collection Description: 
Interview was produced in conjuntion with an exhibit on basketball at the Levine Museum of the New South.
Interview Audio: 
PG (Pamela Grundy): [Tape starts mid-sentence] and this is Pamela Grundy, and I'm here interviewing Mr. Bill Bost about basketball in Catawba County, North Carolina, and it's the 15th of March, 1993. Maybe you could just start by telling me your earliest memories of basketball yourself. When did you learn to play and--?
BB (Bill Bost): Oh, well, I, I come from a family of basketball and, and probably as John mentioned before, and I've mentioned this a lot of times, people want to know why basketball was one, one of the most interesting sports, especially in Catawba County. And it starts back years and years ago, because it was back in the time where people didn't have anything else to do. And especially during the winter. And they had no type of entertainment, this type thing. And so basketball was really just a big community--. I mean that was the big, that was the big event of, of, of the, the whole, whole year. And of course I always wanted--. I had all my brothers and sisters played, and I grew up with it, going to games. I mean Fridays and Tuesdays, that was just as regular as clockwork, you went to, you went to basketball games. And you traveled--. And when I started, there was twenty, I believe twenty-two schools in the county. And it was tremendous rivalry between these schools. And I, at first, all my brothers, and, and just to tell you the truth, I was not a great athlete in high school. And, but I had some brothers and sisters who were. And I, when I first started, I had no intentions of playing. I was much more interested in girls when I was in the seventh, eighth grade than I was in basketball. And of course being born and raised in Claremont and it was a big basketball community. And the people in the community, knowing that my brothers and sisters played, I know they asked me, said, you know, "You planning on playing basketball?" I mean when I was just a little kid. And I said "No, I'm not interested." And as I got older and got ready to get into high school, I became more interested in basketball. And as I say, I wasn't very good. I was left-handed for one thing. And Mr. Tuttle, who was, who was our principal at that time, he was our coach. And so, I spent probably much more time after I got involved in basketball and the, really the pressure from my brothers and sisters kind of forced me into it. And once I got involved into it, and I loved it. But I, really, like I say, I really wasn't that good. And so I had to work probably four or five times harder than the average athlete in order to compete. And so, and then once, once I got involved in playing, oh, it was just the greatest thing that's ever been. Of course, as I say, I still wasn't great but I, I was adequate and by the time I graduated from high school I'd--. Clarence Stacks would choose the--. The athletic director and football coach at Lenoir-Rhyne had offered me a partial scholarship for basketball. That was--, I graduated in '51. Of course in '51 the Korean War had started, and all my brothers had gone to service. And so hey, I just knew that that's, that was something I had to do. So I went and spent four years in the Air Force. And so, and then I came back, realizing that I really didn't get the education that I needed, so I decided to go to college. And [Clears throat] and then getting, got into college and still having my love for sports. Of course, you know I played baseball and this that and the other. But the thing, the thing I was concerned about, you know, I was--, an education, then what are you going to do? You know, well you--. You know, I loved, I loved sports but I, in order to coach I had to get a degree. And so actually I went to college to be a coach, once I got in, once I got involved in. And so I graduated in fifty, '59. [Clears throat] My brother was a successful coach at Hiddenite, and I went over there and started coaching baseball and seventh and eighth grade girls' basketball and just fell in love with it. And at that time he was coaching both boys and girls. And he finally gave up, gave up one of the teams. He gave up the girls, and I started coaching and we had a real successful teams over there. And I was still living in this area, commuting back and forth, and the job came available here at Bandys and also the consolidation in Alexander County. And so I moved to Bandys and that's how I got, that's how I got started here in, twentieth, I guess- how long ago is it? I don't even remem--. I came up here in '71, I guess. And then I retired in '88.
PG: So that was quite a while that--.
BB: That sure was.
PG: --that you were coaching there. Well, to just go back to the beginning to something that you were saying. At the beginning you said that you had, you, once you got started into it was just fantastic and you loved it. What did you love about it, what was so great about basketball that you--?
BB: I, I think probably that basketball is one of the few sports that, that absolutely does everything that relates to life. You get used to, well you win some, you lose some. You've got to learn to control your temper, your emotions. And, and it I, I think it's just such a great tool that a kid, if he can participate and say in basketball, it's a team, it's a--. He's got to play with other people. And whereas in, you know, and baseball is teamwork also, but it's not, not as integral. It's not as, as close as basketball is. And so it just teaches the, teaches the whole game of life. And I find that if you can get kids involved in basketball, that it just, it just helps tremendously, you know. And I, I can say, I can say of all the kids that I've coached, over all the years I've coached, I'd, I'd say I can count on one hand the kids that went bad. All of them became successful in some way or other in life. Which is, you know, I think is just great, and I feel sure any coach can tell you the same thing that's ever, you know, that's ever been successful or any coach for, for that matter. So, it's just a--. I think, I think basketball and--. But you know you have the same thing in football and other sports. But basketball there's more closeness, and I think it just does a, a tremendous job of, of, because it's so related to, to the fact, you know, to the way people live.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Did you find yourself changing while you were in high school as you played ball? Did you find that it affected you in that way?
BB: Once I got involved, and, and I think probably it was the limelight. In other words, you were the, you were part of, you were really part of the community. Because that was the--, what all people talked about was the games, the wins, the loss, the competition and so forth, and you get caught up in it. And then, and then, then you want to achieve. You want to be, you want to win to make people feel good around you. And so, sure, you, in other words, you get caught up in it. And then, then, and I, I really think, probably, if I'd have been a much better ballplayer, I probably wouldn't have been as, as good a coach. Usually great, great athletes and great ballplayers don't make good coaches. And the reason I think for that is that, that great athletes tend to show what they can do. Whereas if you're not a great athlete, then you've got to show the kids, and you, you get down on their level because you're not out there shooting, you know, the great shots and making the great moves, because you can't do that. And so you have to teach them to do that, so--. And I think that probably this is one, this is one, one of the things--. And if you notice a lot of, a lot of outstanding--. For instance, I guarantee you Dean Smith was not a great basketball player when he was in college. But he's, he's just one fantastic, you know, coach. So just, as I say, just because a person's a great player doesn't necessarily mean he's a great coach.
PG: All right. Well I'm interested in this about the community when you talk about being part of the community. Who would come to your games when you were playing, who, who was there at the games?
BB: Well, first, first of all, I think community is, community is just like anything else. As, as long as you win. That, that is the number one secret. You have got to win to get people in the community. And, and, and once--. Well for instance in the Bandys area, now it goes back years and years and years, when they had the Balls Creek and the Sherrills Ford, you know, the twenty-two schools. It goes, it goes back to then and, and your competition was real great. But if you had, if you didn't win the people wouldn't come. But what, what's happened is and especially in the Bandys area, these, there was a tremendous number of people who participated. And just, if you look at the area, at one time this was all farm community. And this was the only thing that kids could do. And so they, they really put a lot of emphasis in, in basketball. And I, I, I think that once, and again once, once you start winning, then people will come from everywhere. And I, I, I remember back during, oh the 70s, late 70s and 80s, we would lock the gym. I mean, we, we would get so many people in, and the fire, fire marshal would make us close the gym.
PG: Really?
BB: Right. And this went on for years because we had such a great, great tradition. And, but, just, the thing is still going on. If you'll look around in this area, people talk basketball. They've got their outside goals. Parents just expect their kids to play basketball in, in this area. And so they come from every, they come from everywhere. I, I go out to the game now, and I still see people that come to the games, when they, when I first started coaching, they still come to the games. I mean, they've been, it's been out there for thirty years. The same people, got their same spot on, in the gymnasium, and they, and it's, it's just a ritual. And I think, I think probably the, that what makes a community successful [Clears throat] is, first of all you've got to win, and what usually happens that coaches, us--. They start coaching, they become successful and then they start moving up. Then they become assistant principals, principals and if you'll notice lots and lots of coaches have become principals and administrators and even superintendent. And unless somebody comes in behind them and continues this tradition, then that tradition dies. And as a result, then they, it don't, it don't carry on, so what really, I think what it really, what you really have to have is somebody that's going to stay in the community, stay there a long time and be successful. And then select somebody that comes along and does the same thing and I'm talking about a period of twenty or thirty or forty years. And, so I, I know that at one time Taylorsville, when I, I was, when I was in high school, had one of the greatest basketball, girls' basketball teams in the, the, you know, in the whole state. But as years past, as coaches moved on, then they, they started putting their emphasis on, on football because that's a money sport. And so the basketball program- and I can say the same thing with Lincolnton and, and with some of these other schools that had great programs for a while and then those, those coaches moved on to principals, superin--. And then they didn't follow, somebody didn't come in and follow up with your (kids). And I think probably this is, this is the thing that's happened here at Bandys is that we've been fortunate to have good coaches who come in, stay a long time, and keep the tradition going.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh. What do you think that that does for a community to have a successful basketball team, how do you--?
BB: I, I think, I think it, it goes--. Well for instance, [Clears throat] I, when I was coaching at, at Hiddenite, and we, we, my first, I coached boys after I quit girls. I coached boys for two years, and we ended up winning twenty games. And we went to a district down--. We went to the state playoffs and that, that whole community closed down. I mean everybody got on buses and come down to Raleigh to see us play. And they talk about it in church, they talk about it in, in the workplace, they talk about in the stores, and so the whole community gets behind it and creates tremendous rivalry. And I think probably, at one time when I was coaching girls, there was only, people- in fact I coached boys and girls for about eight years. And people say, you know, how did you, or, you know, how did you coach boys and girls? Well first of all, I started coaching boys and girls when they changed the rule, when the girls started playing just like the boys. And I could practice with the girls just like I practiced with the boys. And I only had about two schools I had concern about with girls. Lincolnton, East Lincoln, I mean, who had a great girls' program, and Fred T. Foard. The other schools, they didn't have anything, they didn't have, so I only had to prepare for about four games a year because for those, those two teams. Well, now, New--, Newton, they were just, they were a nothing. They didn't, they had a great tennis team, they wasn't interested in girls' basketball, but they got tired of getting whipped so they came in, put a lot of emphasis on the program and now they've got probably one of the strongest programs in the area. And I think this is what any--. If a community wants to really build a program, I think they first of all they need to find, you know, a great coach, a good coach, they've got to support it, get their kids interested, go see them play and, and show an interest. And of course, if people would not, people will not believe it when they come from around and they come and they play Bandys and they look in the stands and absolutely both sides are just packed. You go to their place and they have maybe thirty or forty people, most of them parents and that's all, that's all that's there. And so, I don't know really about building this up but I think, I think first of all you've got to get your kids interested, you got to get the parents interested and you got to get the community and you got to talk at a church and so forth. And that's, that's, to me, that's the whole, that's whole thing right there in a ball, you know, I think that's what it's, what it's, you got to have to be a good, you know, a good, a good sports program. And I think that goes in the colleges, you know. I think, I think you got to put emphasis on it, and if you put emphasis on it then you can be successful. But the main thing is you've got to have a good coach who, who, who does a good job and gets the kids involved.
PG: Well, did you find.
BB: [Coughing]
PG: when you were coaching the girls and the boys, did you find that it was different to coach the girls.
BB: No.
PG: and the boys or was it--?
BB: What, what, what, what happened was, years ago, see I firs--. When I started out, I started out coaching girls. And I found out--. And my brother was coaching, my brother was real--. He knew all the rules and so forth, and he, and he played college ball at Lenoir-Rhyne. And he, I always told him he overcoached, and most coaches do. They, they try to make kids do things that they know appear. And they're not, they don't get down on the level of the playing field down there with the, with the kids. And for years, when I first started coaching girls, they tried to do away with it, the boys' coaches especially. They wanted, [Coughing] they wanted to have a JV girl, I mean a JV boys' and a varsity boys'. And they would say, "Well, you know, if you want to play a girls' game, play it on Wednesday afternoon," you know. And I fought, I fought that from day one because as a, as a--. Back then a girl, the only time she got her name in the paper was when she was born, when she got married, and when she died. That was it. But she played basketball at least she could see her name in the paper, which was, you know--. And, and girls were much easier to coach than boys because--.
PG: How so?
BB: Because boys, they see so much of it on TV. And they think that they know and can react the same. Girls, you tell the girls, you need to do this to win, and they'll go out there and they'll bust their tail to do that. And I mean if you say, "Go out and stand on your head in the middle of the court, and that's the way you're going to win a ball game," they'll go out there and stand on their head in the middle of the court. And so girls are much easier to coach. I've always found this. And boys are hard-headed, you tell, you try to tell them something, and they, you know, they think, well, I know more about it than you do. And so, but I, but boys, when I first started coaching, they had three on three.
PG: Right.
BB: And then they went about five, eight years and they switched it from two rovers. And the idea was that girls couldn't go up and down the court. They didn't have enough stamina to go up and down the court, so that's the reason they split, three and three. Well then they said, we'll put two rovers. And two can go over and two can come back. [Coughing] Well I coached with them, then the three on three, and, and coached with the rovers. And I found out that girls had tremendous stamina. I also found out they were great shooters. Now they couldn't shoot as long a shot, but accuracy, they were much better at accuracy than boys. And then when they made the rule and said we could play five on five, I would, I would take those girls and I would run them just like I did the boys. Same type practice, same length of time, and I found out that those girls could do just, get up and down the court. And we won most of our games because we just out-hustled them, and we had more stamina. We'd run them, and run a team to death. And I did this with boys, too. Conditioning, mainly. A lot of people, a lot of coaches spend a tremendous amount of time on Xs, Os, and, and, and trying to teach what Dean Smith teaches or what Jim Valvano teaches, and so forth. But they, high school coaches, don't realize, they go out and recruit these kind of people to come in to play into their system. High school, you've got to play what you've got coming to you. And I found out that long ago that you take and you find your own system and you put it in and, and it works. And girls, and here again, it, it, it's kind of crazy because it used to be that girls, freshmen and sophomore, couldn't play on the varsity. And the only time you could play was when they were juniors and seniors. Well, I realized, because being at the little school at Hiddenite that I had to play whatever came out. If I had some freshmen come out, well that's what I had to play. I also found out after coaching girls for a long time and, and same thing that gymnast have found for years, you take, you take a little girl gymnast after she reaches sixteen she's no longer, she's no longer, her--. Your best gymnast is your twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen. Why? Because, because the girl at that age has not started developing into womanhood, and so she's trimmed down and so same, same thing is true with basketball. They're quicker, faster, they move--. And then you start them out as freshman and sophomores and you teach them the skills and then when they--I call it. Well, I always told them, you, the girls ass out. And that, that really is exactly what happens. They, they get, they get ready for childbirth by the time they're juniors and seniors. And when they do this then they're, they lose a lot of this ability. So what, when you learn it, learn it down here as a freshman, sophomore this carries over into their junior, senior so they're still good ball players, they're not nearly as good a ballplayer as they were when they were freshman or sophomore but you, they've played along. They've got the experience and know how, what, and it carries right on into the junior and senior.
PG: Right.
BB: And a lot of coaches don't understand that. They want to say, well you know, I want that, I want that sophomore or I want that junior or senior on my team because of, of experience. Well they don't know they've already lost two years of experience and that down there is where you make your athletes.
PG: Uh-huh. Well that's real interesting. Well it seems like you maybe have had a little different attitude toward girls' basketball than some other coaches have had in terms of what you thought that the girls were able to do and, you know, stuff like that. Where do you think you got that from? Where do think you got that feeling that, you know, the girls could do as well as the boys?
BB: Well, I, I think that, that when I started coaching that only thing they, I was given was girls. I was given a seventh and eighth grade girls' team. And of course, I loved to coach and I went out there and, and played with them and worked with them and I really became practically like a dad to them. And once they, once they get involved and once, once they--. Well for instance in that first group of kids that I had at Hiddenite, I coached them for two years and they, they become just like my own children. And I found out right quick that, you know, that, and I've always loved a fast-paced game, and so I'd say let's, you know, let's go out. And the secret is a lot coaches you hear again will go out and they will, I've heard a coach say, "Well I don't let my kids touch a basketball for two weeks. I want to teach them fundamentals and I want to teach them this and that and the other." I say, I can teach them fundamentals, and we can have fun. Always try to make it fun. Make it, make as much fun and you get these girls, you get them out there playing. If they make a mistake, you tell them you made a mistake and keep right on going up and down the court. And, and another thing, you say, why girls? Because they listen to you; they do just exactly what you say. And, of course, I was real successful with them, when I first started out. And so it just killed me when boys' coaches would try to kill their program. And, and that's the reason it didn't bother me at all when I, see I, when I came to Bandys I came over just to coach boys. I was hired to coach boys. And Dick Foster, who was the football coach, had the girls. Well he could absolutely have cared less about what those girls, whether they won or lost. And I'd seen this tremendous talent, and Dick wanted to give them up. He wanted to devote more time to his football, and I said--. Mr. Sigmon, our principal, said, "Bill," said, said, "I can't find a girls' coach. Will you take them one year and I'll find a coach?" So I said, "Sure." I said, " I'll coach them both." At that time I was, I was being a, I was a football assistant, baseball, head baseball coach, boy's basketball coach, girls' basketball coach, and the year later I was assistant principal, so I had quite a, and athletic director. [Laughter] But anyway, and I got, I got, like I say I just got as much fun out of watching girls play as I did the boys just about. And so I've always, I always--. And you'll find it in this area, this still holds true. You'll still find people go out there filling this gym for girls' basketball. It used to be girls, the parents would come to see them play. The parent would come to see the girls play, and about half time or third quarter, then the gym would start filling up for the boys' game. But not any more. The, you, when the game starts now, there's as many, as many there for the girls' game as there are for the boys' game. And it, it's just a, these people around here, they'll fight you over a girls' game just as much as they will over a boys' game. And I, I think of course, this has kindly picked up with the emphasis on girls' sports and this type stuff and I, I think it did. I think this is, you know, not many schools at one time did this and now they're becoming more involved, you know. But again, I think a good girls' game, I'd just as soon see a good girls' game as I would a good boys' game.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. That's interesting because I think sometimes down in the city schools, the girls' teams aren't as--.
BB: Right. The girls are, they put them on pedestals, and you know, this, that and the other. And girls are not supposed to--. And again you have people that honest to goodness believe that girls can't go out there and participate for, you know, thirty-two minutes, up and down the court, full-court. But, you know, they say, you know, the--. But the old tradition was that girls were to get married and have babies, you know, and how, but that's no, that's no, that's not true at all, and I think everybody's realizing this now.
PG: Well, I was interested too when you said that, that the boys were real influenced by what they saw on television.
BB: Oh yeah.
PG: Can you talk a little bit about that, how effects, how effects on how they see themselves when they watch all these television games?
BB: Well, they, what they do is try to imitate them. They see these--. And to a certain extent that's good. I remember, I remember Everett Case. The first time, and I was in high school, and the first time I'd ever seen a jump shot. And Sammy Ranzino, I believe, I believe it was Sammy Ranzino, he was an All-American N.C. State, and he shot a one-hand jump shot. And I was in high school, and everything at that time was, you know, a two-handed set. Everything. And that, was, to me, I was awed, I'd never seen anything like it. And of course just as soon as we got back to the gym, everybody was, everybody was attempting this, this one-handed shot. And from that time on, you know, it developed. And then, then it, and the jump shot. The first, the first jump shot that I ever seen was a, was a girl, at Claremont. And it was just, and it strictly by, I think it was probably strictly by accident. And whether she'd seen somebody else play it or not, I don't know. But she was a pretty--, real sturdy girl, and she played center. And they'd get the ball in and, and, at that time they had a real good girls' coach, too, Walter Roy Sigmon. He died. But he had her taking the ball, receiving the ball and, and with her back to the basket, and turning around and jumping, and just banked it right off the backboard. Right underneath the basket. And she became un--, you couldn't stop her. I mean it was just, because nobody had ever seen it and, and the main thing is if you got the ball in her hands, she would score. Of course then, then from that it went to, you know, the jump shot. And, and these kids will see all this stuff on television, and they'll come back and try to, try to, try to intim--, not to intimidate, to try to imitate these, these--. Well how many people do you think try to imitate Michael Jordan? I mean you've even got pros trying [Laughter] to imitate Michael Jordan. But, but, but college or sports on TV has a tremendous amount of influence. That's the reason that it's so important that these pros set a great example because they can do so much for the young kids because they do and act just exactly what they see on TV now.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. Are there any particular, that you remember during the years when you were coaching, any particular players or any particular kind of moves by players that got, got real popular and your kids would try to imitate? Is there any one of those?
BB: Oh, well, what, whatever at that time, whoever the player of the, of the year was. In other words, for instance, [Pause] this, the little semi-hook shot. I, I remember I had a kid that, that he had saw, and I forget now who it was. Kentucky had two guys that were just outstanding with the, with the hook shot. And he'd seen him play, and he came back and he'd imitate it, and he, he became good. And, and so, I'd say, I'd say that kids will see others and then imitate them. And if they can accomplish this, then they'll try it, and if once they can try it and it works then it happens all the time. And it's still happening. I mean, it, it, it does it. Kids will imitate, you know, whatever they see on television, or whatever they see somebody else doing.
PG: Um-hum, um-hum. Did you remember when you saw your first television game?
BB: [Laughter] Lord, no. No. I re--, I remember seeing Carolina win the national championship in '57.
PG: Uh-huh.
BB: I remember, I remember watching that on television. And I imagine there was games before that, but I know it was on black and white. And, of course, I remember the first TV I ever saw was at her house. And that was in what? Fou--, say forty, '48. It was a little ole--. But, but now they didn't have basketball games on then. They had some comics, and, but as far remembering first basketball game, I wouldn't remember. But I, I say I do remember the '57 tournament. I remember that real well.
PG: Did that, did having that, did having Carolina win that championship did that increase interest in basketball in this area?
BB: Oh, yes.
PG: Or was it already--?
BB: I, I think the person that really did it though was, I think person that really brought basketball to this area was Everett Case, and his style. He, he, you know, he came, Everett came from Kentucky, and at one time--. Well back when, when I was a kid, and most impre--. One of the, one of the first things, one of the most impressive things that I ever read when I was in high school about, and it was telling about some small community in Kentucky. At that time Kentucky, and I think they still do, they have an unlimited--. They don't have an A-1, A-2, A-3 or 4, you know. If you the best, you go. And I know they were playing, I guess they were playing at Louisville, I don't know, but anyway, this one small school was playing in the state championship and it was from a small community. And it was in Life magazine. It was, and it had pictures of, of the policeman on, that's standing guard at the community, and everybody in the community got in a car, in, in, lined up in cars and left the town and drove to see the state--. And I thought that was the most impressive thing, and I, I don't remember whether they won or lost but I thought, God, you know, that was--. Because I could relate to it. I've been born in Claremont. I could just see, God you know, everybody, we're playing the state championship and everybody just gets in a caravan and goes, goes [Laughter] to Raleigh. But, you know, at that time Kentucky was the basketball, and then when Everett Case came down and at NC State and he, he was the one that really got people interested. I remember going down and seeing, seeing the old Dixie Classic when State, Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest would invite teams from all around. I remember, I remember Cincinnati coming down ranked number one, undefeated, and lost three ball games. [Laughter] They, they went back with, then, and didn't, and that was, that was a big thing. And, in fact at that time they played at the Coliseum or at Reynolds Auditorium there in Raleigh, and that was the biggest gym I'd ever seen in my life. I remember, I remember going down there and, going God, look at all these people. Now that's nothing. But, like I say, I've gone to basketball, been involved in basketball, you know mainly because of my family, you know. It's where it, got it started. Of course, I understand you're going to talk to Jerry Copas.
PG: I hope to at some point--.
BB: Yeah.
PG: --here, talk with him. I guess he has a real--.
BB: Oh yeah. Jerry, Jerry and I, you see. Jerry and I go back the same time. He and I played against each other, went to college. Then I went to Hiddenite and he started coaching, and then I came to Bandys. And we've had tremendous battles. Yeah, he's just a super --. You'll love him. He is just a super guy.
PG: Um-hum. Um-hum. Let me ask you, one of the things that we ask, we've been asking people that we interview is if they've got one sort of memorable moment. If they were to sort of pull one moment out of their whole career in basketball that was just special to them, what it would be? And I'm wondering if you've got a memorable moment?
BB: Yeah, I've, I've got thousands, but I've got one [Clears throat] that's, that's practically almost unbelievable. And I, I'll try to set it up. We were playing in the regional, [Pause] it was the regional semifinals at Statesville. And we were playing West Montgomery, who was 25 and 0. And the closest anybody had come to beating them all that year was I believe eleven points. They had just absolutely slaughtered everybody by a total of twenty points or more. And I'd went down and seen them play the night before, and I was absolutely awed. I had never seen such a, and, and I made a bad mistake of taking my team with me. And after I seen them play I thought, boy, I have really, absolutely made one terrible mistake. Because they were awesome. And we were playing them the next, the next night. I called the coach who had stayed within eleven. And I asked him, I said, and I was asking about West Montgomery, and he said, he said, he said, "God help you," said, "if you've got to play them." I said, "Well, I do. I've got to play them." I said "How did you stay within eleven?" He said, he said, "The only team that's even stayed close with them." He said, "If you can, if you can stay close with them during, during the regular game, or if you could happen to get ahead," he said, "they've never played behind." He said, "They might panic." He said, "But I, I, I led them." And he said, anyway--. I said OK. So I told my kids, the next night after I seen them play, I said, I said, "Oh, I want to tell you what." I said, "Now, I can't do anything out there on the court for you." But I said, "You keep this game close." I said, "You keep it close the last two minutes." And I said, I said, "Then I'll take over," and I said, "I'll try to win the ball game for you." Well, I had no earthly idea that we were even going to stay close. We went out there, and we were just unbelievable. Everything we did was right. We got down--. It wasn't West Montgomery, that was Mon--, that was Monroe, wasn't it? Monroe. It was, OK. Monroe. Anyway, we got down to, we got down and we were in the--. [Pause] It was--. We were down four points with I believe fifteen seconds to go. They go down and we come back, and we, we, they get the ball. Of course every--. We're still, we're still behind four. We tip the ball up two or three times, and finally, with about two ticks on the clock, the ball goes in. We score. We still down two. They've got the ball, OK. The place was absolutely packed. In fact, most, most people had already left the gym, because they, they just knew we was whipped. Bobby Lutz, who now is a coach at Pfeiffer, was my assistant. And the official was standing right in earshot, and here we're setting up a play. They got the ball out of bounds, only about two ticks on the clock. And [Clears throat] I looked, and Bobby said, "Go for the charge." He got on, (he hollered up there), he said, "Watch the charge." Benny Harris who was a substitute, he'd, I put him out, I said, "Set a pick on this guy here." The best ball handler was going to take the ball out of bounds. I said, "Set a pick on this guy here." I told the official, I said, "Watch him." I said, "We're going for the charge." And the guy goes and takes the ball out of the basket, and he's standing here like this, and this kid, he just turns. He has no idea. He just flattens [Clapping sound] my kid. And the official called it. And the guy is still under the basket, you know, trying to get the ball in. Called it a charge, which was a one-and-one. And Harris goes to the court, goes to the line, and hits them both, puts it into overtime, and we beat them by, ends up beating about six or seven points in overtime. One of the most unbelievable games of, of all time. People, people still--. And I've got a tape of it. It, it's just absolutely unbelievable. In fact people called me apologizing. They'd say, "Hate that you've lost the ball game. I said what do you mean, talking about lost." Said, "We won the ball game." Said, "There's no way!" A lot of them was listening to it on the radio. They'd turned it off. [Laughter] But, but that has to go down as one of the most memorable--. And we went--. Did we win the state championship that time? We didn't, no. Got beat by Bunn. Anyway, went to the finals, and we got beat. But anyway, that was, that was--. But I've got, like I say, I've got a lots of them, but that one has to be one of, one for the record.
PG: What year was that that you did that?
US (unidentified speaker): '81.
BB: Yeah--, OK. '81. That's right because we won the state championship the next year.
PG: That must have been a thrill.
BB: It was, and, and the thing about it is, probably we had, had the better bunch of kids in '81. We only had one kid back as a starter the next year and, and then we won the state championship. And people couldn't, you know, said how in the world did you win a state championship when you lost four starters. But what happened was, these kids that came up on the team, they had played against these good ball players, practiced against them for years and years, you know, and so, when it was their time to come and play, buddy, they, they stepped up and, and won the state championship. But I've been real, I've been real fortunate, had great ball players, and I wouldn't--. If I had it to do over again I'd do exactly the same thing.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Well, do you feel,--? You were talking about how these pro players need to be an example, you know. They need to--, they should act well, be a good example because kid, kids watch them. Did you feel during your years of coaching that you needed to be--?
BB: Absolutely, absolutely. You'd better. And I think, I think any coach--. I know for years and years and years I never used a word of profanity of any type. Of course, I coaching girls and boys, and, and in the dressing room or no time. I just, I just didn't think that was, that was--. And as I got--. I think as I got older, things became more--, and I'd, you know, I'd let a "damn" and a "hell" go, and this, that. But as far as really just cussing a kid, I never believed that. And I think, I think coaches have got to set, set examples. I think if you, you're going to be successful, that you've got to do this. And you've got to expect your kids to do this, and you can't take any crap off of them. And you've got to tell--. I never, I never set rules. I never said, now this is one hundred rules, you know, and this is what you've got to go by. I tell them, "You're playing basketball for me, you know what I expect. I expect you to be here on, be here on practice. I expect you to be on time. I expect you to do your homework. I expect you to be in class." And I said, "I make no rules." I said, "You know that." And I said, "You break them or you don't do that," I said, "you don't play for me." And, and the kids knew that, and they, and they understood it. And I think probably that, as I say, a lot of times coaches don't--. They, they expect to go out and coach kids and really not sets, set a good example for them. And they're not going to win. I think this is a must. Of course the pros when you're dealing with, whenever, when they're millions of dollars, I don't see how a coach even coaches those guys. I mean, really all he does, he just coaches personalities. [Laughter] I mean because he'd, he not, he's not going to do a whole lot with the Michael Jordan's and Scottie Pittman's and these people.
PG: Yeah, it's a, it's a, it's a big, it's a big job. It sure is. Well, how do you think that basketball fits in, sort of, if you look at it as part of the school, you know, sort of part of the attempt of the school to--?
BB: I think--. I'll, I'll say this. I think athle--, athletics, all phases, all phases, has, it, probably one of the most important parts. And because--. And the reason for it is, now first of all you've got to keep in mind academics is number one, and you've got to keep that perspective in mind that these kids have got, got to, got to go to class, they've got to do their grades and you can't put athletic, athletics above anything else. But it can be a great part of, of your school program. In fact I think it's one of the most important parts of your school program, because if you've got a winning tradition and you've got good attitudes and your athletes in your school sets examples for the rest of your student body. Now if you let kids get by, if you let your athletes get by cutting classes and doing this and doing that, then everybody else, and, and boy I really was able, because I was assistant principal in charge of all the discipline. And you can bet your bottom dollar, if that athlete stepped out of line and got by with something, the first time that I brought a kid in there for discipline, the first thing he'd say, "Hey, your athlete did this." So I had to be tougher on the athletes than I did on, on the other kids. And, but, but I think, I think that all this goes, you have a much happier atmosphere, [Coughing] kids constantly talking about your sporting events. And not only--. I think your bands is important. I think all your extracurricular, but I think probably that your ath--, athletics is more important than in any other phase, but you can't let it wag the dog, so to speak. [Coughing] It's got, it's got to be a part of it, but it can't, it can't consume the whole, the whole school. Now, Maiden, it, you know, Maiden's got its tremendous program down there in football and they, and, but I think they keep it in perspective. I mean, you know, football is here but academics is up here in the, and I think this, I this is what you've got to in there. And if you, I always say if you show me a good school, show me a school that's got a good athletic program, I'll show you a good school. And I think that's true.
PG: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Well, I think that's pretty much the kind of thing.
BB: [Laughter]
PG: that I was interested in asking about. Do you think there's some things that you want to say about basketball, your career or, you know, anything like that? You won a lot of games I guess?
BB: [Laughter] Well, yeah we was--.
PG: That's what Mr. Edwards said. You've won more than most folks around.
BB: Well, I've, I've probably--. Course, course coaching both teams that helped, and right now I think I'm second in the number of wins, something like 654 which is, you know--. But that goes with longevity. You know, that goes, just like Danny was talking about trying to, going to, going to break some (barrier) in this. That's not the most important thing; the important thing is, is winning in these programs and so forth. But I was fortunate to have some good athletes. And I was just, you know, I was fortunate to, in both Hiddenite and, and at Bandys and had a good program. And when you do that, you win.
PG: Um-huh. Well, great. Well thanks--. [RECORDING INTERRUPTED, THEN RESUMED]
BB: The, the thing, the thing about people in here, you don't have that many great athletes in the, in the community. So everybody who can, who can participate will go out and participate. And, and then they'll pass this on down to their, their children. Well, for instance, I've got a granddaughter now that, that's playing on, on the Bandys team. [Clears throat] And I coached one of my daughters and she, of course she insisted on playing. She wasn't that good. She took that after, after me, but anyway, what, what happens is, is the parents, when they start--. When these kids come, they were born and, born and bred in, in this community. And as I say, if you look around here, there's not anything else to do. You've got to go to Charlotte and Hickory, to New, well Newton. But the only thing you have in here is your school. And everything is centered around your school. And, and naturally your football, your baseball, and your basketball, everybody comes in, in to watch this. And it is really a big part of the community. In fact, it is the whole community. And I think probably this is why you get it. Now for, you take Charlotte or your bigger schools or your bigger cities, only the, the, you know, the coach has got to go out, and he's got to select these and try to get them in and organize them. And, of course, I think probably McCullough at Charlotte just does a fantastic job. And he, and he gets these kids to come in. But, but I guarantee you you go to the gymnasium while these kids are playing and they're, they're not just, they're not hanging from the rafters watching those games. Now you may have your college coaches and you may have your parents there but. And, and, and what's so sad, what's so sad about it is that parents are scared to go. They're scared to get out. They're scared to go because of the violence and this and that and the other. And, you know, I think this is terrible. We, we haven't reached that area here, these people here, it don't bother them and, and I think probably is, if somebody got in a fight, local kids here get in a fight, well the parents would go out and say hey, look, you know, and they, they'd separate it. You try that in Charlotte and you might get shot. So as again I think this, this is, this is one of the big things that your sports in, in your rural areas are still important. And I don't know whether this true down east or not. Where, where were you originally born and raised at, in Chapel Hill?
PG: Actually in Texas. I'm not from North Carolina.
BB: Oh, well, Lord a mercy. [Clears throat] Texas. [Laughter] Well, you, well you don't even know anything about basketball. That's a football--. [Laughter]
BB: [Coughing]
PG: I've been learning about basketball. ( )
BB: That a football state. [Laughter]
PG: I've been learning about some basketball (since I've been here). It's been that--. It's sort of the thing sort of thing, you know. It's a community. But again, I like basketball just because, you know, women play basketball--.
BB: Yeah.
PG: So when you talk, you know, you talk about football you're really just talking about the boys.
BB: Right.
PG: You know, you're talking about one group but--. ( )
BB: And, and, and football is such. Well, there's one good thing. I think the one great thing about football is you, you can take--. It can take so many different variety of kids. I mean you can take the big fat, dumb, slow one, you know, and you, you can put them, and you can have him--. And these can these kids can do these certain, and you can teach these kids to do certain things. Then you need a few skill people, you know, the backs and the quarterback. And so actually you've got eleven people out there, but you only, really only need about four or five skilled people. And this, this is one of the things that might be, that I had against, coaching football was, that the football coaches always want your skilled basketball player.
PG: Uh-huh.
BB: Because they, they're your quarterbacks and they're your running backs because they, they're skilled people. In other words, you couldn't take, you couldn't take a bunch of football players and put them on a basketball team and make, because, I mean the skill's entirely different than--. So it's two different, two different sports. But, you know, I think football has its place because you, you can play a lot more kids, they get out there and it becomes a macho thing. Basketball, you know, it's not a macho. For instance, when I was coaching boys and girls, [Clears throat] if I were, if I was at a practice and I, I had the gir--, boys and I maybe had a couple of injuries or somebody not show up, and I had the girls over there, I'd pull those girls and hey, and I'd get them and, and we would practice and scrimmage with the boys. And, and I'd do the same thing if I was coaching the girls, and I had a couple of guys, you know, and I didn't have enough to scrimmage.