John Shearer: Tyner Stadium Fish Sandwiches Known For Popularity

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 - by John Shearer

With a Class 2A playoff semifinal matchup at Rockwood High Friday night, Tyner Academy's football team is having another good football season under veteran coach Wayne Turner.
 
But that is not the only area at Bob Evans Stadium where excellence has been shown under the Friday night lights this fall.
 
This past Friday, for example, while the Tyner players were flying up and down the field in a 42-7 victory over Marion County, some boosters and volunteers were doing some almost-as-impressive frying – of tasty fish, okra and French fries.
 
“It’s good because we know what we’re doing, and it’s the best fish sandwich in Chattanooga,” said 1980 Tyner alumnus and chief cook Subrena Nunn Bell with obvious pride as she helped prepare the food.
“I tell anybody that.”
 
Sold out of a mobile concession stand along the track by the end zone closest to Ty Hi Drive, the fish sandwiches and other items were seeing some brisk sales last Friday. A number of the Marion County fans who were entering the stadium were buying some, as were some of the Tyner fans.
 
“Most of the incoming teams, that’s what the fans come for and they are always crowded over here trying to get fish,” said Ms. Bell’s niece, Adrian Whatley, a member of the Tyner class of 2001, as she helped.
 
Well before last Friday, many Chattanooga fans were aware of the food and stopped by the stand to fuel up on the unusual football fare rather than the more typical concession food of hot dogs and popcorn, even though the booth also sells hot dogs.
 
Veteran WTVC Channel 9 sportscaster Dave Staley also commented on how good he thought the fish sandwiches were while reporting on a Tyner football game earlier this fall.
  
According to Ms. Bell, this Tyner fish tale of satisfied eating had its origins about 20 years ago, when then-football parent Maurice Martin and others tried to come up with a way to help support the football team.
 
“This benefits the football team in order to feed them or accommodate any extras they need,” she said, adding that the booster group has non-profit status. “All the money we make goes to the football team.”
 
A team of several people work a half game shift each preparing and selling the food.
 
While fried fish sandwiches are not a recommended pre-game training meal, and the team eats other food before games, the sandwiches are heartily enjoyed by fans.
 
A sandwich consists of two lightly breaded boneless fillets of whiting fish with two slices of bread. Items like hot sauce, ketchup and mustard along with cole slaw are available at a table to put on them.
 
Ms. Bell – who began helping while her grandchildren were in school – said baked beans are also sometimes served as one of the side dishes.
 
Like the exact formula for Coca-Cola, the exact way the fish fillets are prepared was not revealed. Bell simply said they have “special seasoning.”
 
But the word about their taste is evidently no secret, based on the amount of food that was being prepared.
 
While the Tyner and Marion players were just starting to stretch out and get warmed up 30 minutes or so before the game, the simple portable frying vats that were set up by the stand were already quite warm and cooking away plenty of fillets, fried okra and French fries as a few customers were already waiting.
 
It was football – and fish sandwich -- time at Tyner Academy!
 
And that made both fans and members of the booster club who were working away satisfied and pleased.
 
“I do it for the boys,” said fellow volunteer Glynis Smith as she manned the stand. “That’s why I am here. It’s about the kids.”
 
Jcshearer2@comcast.net

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