Tuesday, May 30, 2017

More on Bill Warren's journey...

Hi, folks.

If you've ducked in here to read "the rest of the story" about Bill Warren (actually some personal notes and other stuff in the reporter's notepad I didn't have room to publish here), welcome!

If you're a regular reader (well, as regular as I've been, i.e. not much since I got sick), and you're from North Knox and certainly from Halls, you'll know some of this stuff.

Either way, pull up a chair. 

Bill (it's still difficult to call him by his first name) has been one of my favorite characters since he and I started trading trivia questions at Halls Middle School almost 30 years ago.

Bits and pieces:

Bill grew up in Bath, N.Y.

He attended, sign of things to come, another H school -- Haverling Central High School. 

Like all good boys, he started out playing baseball. He named his coach, David Jones, as a mentor. Then, too, his high school basketball coach, Ben Ridley.

Bill was a smaller guy. I remember tales about assists. He says high school stories age better with each passing year.

He played hoops as a freshman and sophomore, and was actually cut his junior year.

"But, I worked hard and made it as a senior," he said last Friday during the phone interview.

"In fact, I've used that and I think Ben Ridley used it, as an example of, and I know it's when I first knew about, what it means to be on a team. What happens when you keep working hard.

"I think he took me on as a project. We'd work Sunday nights, two-on-twos, and that's when I developed my love of the game. My senior year. That is invaluable."

After graduating in 1971, Bill attended Corning Junior College, began to think about what he wanted to do. He worked a job to get to the University of Tennessee in the fall of 1974. He graduated in the spring of 1976.

Teaching became part of the tale. 

His final quarter at UT (they hadn't yet converted to semesters), Bill student taught at...wait for it...Brickey School, then a K-8 school (and my elementary school alma mater) for my adopted daddy, John R. McCloud.

At Halls Middle, he taught math (and science for a time). Started working basketball camps with Jim Doane, and the rest is history.

And he knew stuff. Not just about academics and athletics.

But, uh, about, oh, say, old TV shows, music, the Beatles, "Chantilly Lace," "Hill Street Blues," "The White Shadow," "Welcome Back, Kotter," -- and letting a razor-thin nugget of a nerd pretend. Well, no, not pretend.

I was the play-by-play voice for Halls Middle School Demons hoops. (Self-confidence began to build for that little guy.)

My late cousin Josh Ellis was the camera operator. I did my best John Ward play-by-play. "Thank God and Greyhound," they're gone, on the outdated VHS videotape format, or even better, buried in a landfill.

Actually Warren thinks he *might* have some. If he does, I'll turn it into a bad sitcom fodder, which it sounded like then, believe you me.

The only thing I can remember is blanking on Cory Van De Griff's name -- it's not like we had rosters -- so, I said, "And, into the game ... a new face! Well, I'm sure Coach Warren is doing something strategic here. We'll find out who is he for you, folks."

Wanna hear the irony? Bill's been working play-by-play the last few years for Diamond Clear Media. Check here.

(And Cory, in a roundabout sort-of-a-way, is my cousin.)

Daughter Andrea Warren Goins is a pediatrician at Children's Hospital at Erlanger (Chattanooga). She and husband Jesse have two cute children.

Son Nate is back on Rocky Top. He'd gone away to earn a living at various colleges, but had worked for -- wait for it -- John Currie at Kansas State. He was at Louisiana Tech when Currie came calling after being hired as athletic director at UT.

So, Nate came marchin' home again, hurrah, hurrah! He and wife Megan just bought a house a few days ago.

There it is, folks. Bill Warren played a major role in my life, and I didn't even do hoops then, beyond Bird and Magic, reading about John Wooden, and listening to John Ward provide play-by-play for the Volunteers on my old AM radio.

Think of what he's done for his players and for other students.

And he teaches still.

Here's to ya, Bill.

No, no. For old time's sake, I've gotta say it. Thanks, Mister Warren. 

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