Miracle: An unusual or wonderful event that is believed to be caused by the power of God; a very amazing event, thing or achievement.
Coahulla Creek teacher and coach Larry Fleming knows all about miracles; you see, he is one. The fact that he is still teaching and still coaching after 45 years might be enough to classify Fleming as a miracle but all career stats aside, Larry Fleming is a miracle because he is lucky to just be alive.
In June of 2012, he was diagnosed with stage two colon cancer. He was told by his doctors he would first undergo chemo-therapy and radiation treatments, and major surgery would follow. “They were talking about putting a bag in, which would have probably kept me from coaching, or doing much of anything else,” Fleming said . “Stage three cancer means that it’s in your lymph nodes and is spreading through your body. Things were not looking good at all.”
Fleming went through four weeks of chemo and four weeks of radiation treatments, yet when the bell rang at Coahulla Creek High School each morning, he was there for work. “He looked awful, pasty and gray,” assistant principal Stephanie Hungerpiller said of her co-worker. “We checked on him several times a day because we were afraid he was going to pass out.”
After all the treatments were done, doctors said before they did the major surgery and put the bag in place, they wanted to do exploratory surgery to see just what they were facing. At home one evening watching television with his wife Debbie, a strange thing happened to Larry Fleming. “I suddenly felt something, like something moving from the top of my head, down through my body, down my legs and out through the bottom of my feet. Like something was leaving or being forced out of my body. I turned to Debbie and told her, I don’t know what just happened, but I think the Lord just healed me.”
That exploratory surgery Fleming underwent a few days later confirmed his thoughts. The cancer was gone; completely absent from his body. “Some of the nurses told me they had never seen anything like that before. I go back for check-ups every three months, and I’m still cancer free.”
Larry Fleming realizes how lucky he is to still be here, still coaching with his son Chip, and still teaching young people. “When things were not looking so good, there were a lot of prayers going up for me all over the state of Georgia. You know prayer can change a lot of things.”
A reenergized Coach Larry Fleming returned to the football field as an assistant coach this past season and he continues to coach the school’s track program, with his son Chip, who is the head coach. In his 45-year career, Fleming has posted more than a thousand victories in track and field. His football resume is equally impressive. He has been both a head coach and an assistant coach. He played for Lynn Murdock at Rossvile High School and still wears his 1962 State Championship ring. Since entering the education field, Fleming said he has had the privilege of coaching both Coach Murdock’s son and grandson in football. In all, he has been part of 20 region championships through the years.
Larry Fleming is 66 years old, and says he has no plans to retire anytime soon. He has a granddaughter who will be an incoming freshman next fall. “I’d like to be around about four more years or so,” he said with a huge smile.
Every school needs an inspiration or even a “miracle man.” Coahulla Creek High School is very lucky to have Larry Fleming as their very own.
Randy Smith has been covering sports on radio, television and print for the past forty-five years. After leaving WRCB-TV in 2009, he has written two books, and has continued to free-lance as a play-by-play announcer. He is currently teaching Broadcasting at Coahulla Creek High School near Dalton, Ga.
His career has included a seventeen year stretch as host of the Kickoff Call In Show on the University of Tennessee’s prestigious Vol Network. He has been a member of the Vol Network staff for thirty years.
He has done play-by-play on ESPN, ESPN II, CSS, and Fox SportSouth, totaling more than 500 games, and served as a well-known sports anchor on Chattanooga Television for more than a quarter-century.
In 2003, he became the first television broadcaster to be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame. Randy and his wife Shelia reside in Hixson, TN. They have two married children, (Christi and Chris Perry; Davey and Alison Smith.) They have three grandchildren, Coleman, Boone and DellaMae.
To contact Randy: firstname.lastname@example.org