Angelo Napolitano (aka Nubby) has been around football in our fair city for a very long time. The former stand-out running back at U.C.(That’s UTC for those of you born after 1969) has coached high school football in the area, has taught in at least two different school systems and has run a very successful real estate business. Nubby always has a smile on his face, and is an absolute delight to visit with, though our visits are often few and far between.
I got a chance to visit with Nubby for a few minutes Thursday afternoon at The Baylor School. He was there to watch a middle school junior varsity game between Baylor and Whitwell Middle School, while I was there in an official capacity; I am Whitwell’s “get back” coach.(When players creep too close to the playing field, I am the one who tells them to, “get back!) My son, Davey, is Whitwell’s head coach.
Baylor won the game 31-8, giving them a two game sweep of the little Tigers this season. After the game when both sides had shook hands and gathered with their coaches and teammates near midfield, I saw Nubby come down to the field, and shake hands with my son. I had no idea what he was telling him, but if it was about football, I sure hope Davey listened.
After the two men spoke for a few moments, Nubby started to leave Heywood Stadium. I was standing on the track with the rest of my family, when he came up to me and visited for a moment. After we exchanged the normal greetings from two old friends who don’t see each other much, Nubby told me, “Hey you‘re coaching at Whitwell. (He must have figured this out from my white and red Whitwell shirt and my white and red ball cap, with a big tiger paw on it). I just told your head coach, what a great job I think he has done with this team. The way he handles himself on the field, and the way he responds to them is just great. And let me tell you something, I have seen both games you played this season with Baylor, and they have really improved. I just wanted to tell him that.”
Nubby had no idea that Davey was my son, which made the things he said even more special. When I told him, “He’s my son.” Nubby then told me again what a great job he thought he was doing. I thanked him, we talked for a few more minutes, shook hands and he left. As a dad, I was beaming with pride.
In 1976, when Nubby was coaching at Kirkman, his team finished the regular season a perfect 10-0. They played Bradley Central in the first round of the playoffs and lost; but Nubby Napolitano made a name for himself, that season, as a very good high school football coach. I’m really glad to see he still comes to games, even middle school JV games. Thanks Nubby for the kind words to my son. You’re still one of my heroes!
Randy Smith has been covering sports in Tennessee for the last 43 years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has continued his broadcasting career as a free-lance play-by-play announcer. He is also an author and is a media concepts teacher at Brainerd High School in Chattanooga. He is also the Head Softball Coach at Brainerd. Randy Smith's career has included a 17-year stint as scoreboard host and pre-game talk show host on the widely regarded "Vol Network". He has also done play by play of more than 500 college football, basketball, baseball and softball games on ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports, CSS and Tennessee Pay Per View telecasts. He was selected as "Tennessee's Best Sports Talk Show Host" in 1998 by the Associated Press. He has won other major awards including, "Best Sports Story" in Tennessee and his "Friday Night Football" shows on WRCB-TV twice won "Best Sports Talk Show In Tennessee" awards. He has also been the host of "Inside Lee University Basketball" on CSS for the past 11 years. He was the first television broadcaster to ever be elected to the "Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame", in 2003. Randy and his wife, Shelia, reside in Hixson. They have two married children (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith). They also have three grandchildren (Coleman, Boone, and DellaMae).