Woodham, Churchill and Danny Gilbert

Ed Woodham Enters Chattanooga HOF Monday

Friday, February 22, 2013 - by B.B. Branton

“Coach Ed Woodham talked to me for 30 minutes about why I shouldn’t quit and I guess it all made sense as I stayed with the sport. No telling what would have happened to me if I had walked away, but it probably wouldn’t have been good.”

-- Hall of Fame Wrestling Official, Danny Gilbert

 

He was a long-haired, street-tough East Ridge sophomore looking for a reason to quit.

But Pioneers wrestling coach Ed Woodham took a page from Winston Churchill’s famous 1941 “Never, Never Quit” speech and refused to give up on the 98-pound Danny Gilbert in the mid-1970s.

“Danny told me that he was going to quit the team because he didn’t want to cut his hair and needed a part time job after school,” said Woodham.

“I let him out of practice for that one day to make some spending money raking leaves, but expected him back at practice the following day.”

Listed number three on the team’s three-deep depth chart at the lightest weight behind Terry Snyder (a member of the 1972 state championship team) and former county junior high champ Rocky Teal , Gilbert had a change of heart, hairdo and attitude, did return to the squad and in two years was a state champion.

“Coach Woodham talked to me for 30 minutes about why I shouldn’t quit and I guess it all made sense as I stayed with the sport,” said Gilbert. “No telling what would have happened to me if I had walked away, but it probably wouldn’t have been good.”

Gilbert soon beat both guys in his weight class for the varsity spot at 98 pounds and registered a pin in his first varsity match.

“My first win was in front of the East Ridge student body and when the crowd cheered after I pinned my opponent I was hooked.

“I told myself ‘I can get use to this (crowd cheering),’” Gilbert said with a laugh.

Hall of Fame: Woodham, who will be inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night as part of the class of 2013, has had a habit of not giving up on kids over the years as he coached the Pioneers to state wrestling titles in 1967 and 1972.

Also versed in the rules of team handball, the former Univ. of Chattanooga football player from the mid-1950s molded a Pioneer national championship squad in the mid- 1970s and an adult national title squad a decade later as Gilbert was a member of those handball teams.

Gilbert took a couple of pages from Woodham and Churchill’s “playbook” as he coached his alma mater to the 1991 small school duals state championship.

“That was definitely a Cinderella, ‘never, never quit’ season in 1991 as defending state duals champion Chattanooga Central beat us really bad in the regular season match,” stated Gilbert a hall of famer in his own right, inducted into the Tennessee chapter, National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2008.

“But we switched our lineup around for the region finals, was able to neutralize as best we could their studs, pulled off the big upset and the next week we were state champions.”

On Monday night, Woodham, Gilbert and several other Pioneer alums will gather to swap old war stories and also remind each other, no matter the odds to never, never quit.

 

contact B.B. Branton at william.branton@comcast.net


CCS Hoopsters Split With Lookout Valley

The Chattanooga Christian School boys and girls basketball teams hosted Lookout Valley Tuesday night in the opening round of the CCS Thanksgiving tournament.  The Lookout Valley girls held on to beat CCS in the first game 61-56.  The Charger boy won the final game 56-47.  Elexis Foster led Lookout Valley with 20 points.  The Lady Yellow Jackets jumped out ... (click for more)

Covenant Women Fall At Berry

Despite shooting a season best 39.2 percent from the floor, the Covenant women's basketball team fell to Berry 88-55 on Tuesday night inside the Cage Center. The loss is Covenant's fifth straight to start the season. Berry now stands at 3-1. The Vikings raced out to a 10-0 lead to start the game. While the Scots were able to cut the lead to five, at 14-9, Berry again pulled ... (click for more)

Kiser Takes Witness Stand For First Time; Says He Did Not Kill Deputy Donald Bond

Marlon Duane Kiser took the witness stand at his post-conviction hearing on Tuesday to declare that he did not kill Deputy Donald Bond, who was gunned down at a produce stand in East Brainerd 13 years ago. Kiser had not opted to go on the stand when he was convicted by a Nashville jury and given the death penalty in 2003. He said he believes it was Mike Chattin, the man he ... (click for more)

Courtney Godwin, 25, Was Victim In Monday Night Fire In Hixson

Chattanooga firefighters battled a fully-involved structure fire in Hixson Monday night, and the incident involved at least one fatality.  Dr. Steve Cogswell with the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the victim as Courtney D. Godwin, 25. Dr. Cogswell said Ms. Godwin died from smoke inhalation.   The first call to 911 Communications was received ... (click for more)

Chattanooga State Faculty Has No Business Being Involved In Hiring Decisions

This letter will hopefully bring some clarity to the recent situation created by the faculty of Chattanooga State Community College. It is based upon my tenure as a member of the faculty at Chattanooga State Technical Institute, the transformation to Chattanooga State Community College, and my service as the financial and administrative officer at Chattanooga State until my retirement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Grand Thanksgiving Feast

I’m not really sure how it all came about but a few days before Thanksgiving last year, what was usually a crowded table had dwindled down to just Mother, Aunt Martha and me. Just the idea of getting dressed up made both of them tired, which happens when you are 89 and 87, respectively, and the thought of preparing the traditional feast brought only further groans so I announced ... (click for more)