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Some people just have “it.”
You meet them for the first time and they are easy to like. For whatever reasons, their demeanor lets you trust them immediately. They just carry themselves in a different way. It’s a confidence that comes from being well prepared. They can look you in the eye and tell you the long and short of it without hurting your feelings. They say “Yes, ma’am” or “No, sir” to folks whether they are older or younger because that is how their parents raised them. They show respect for their fellow human beings; hence they are given much respect even though that isn’t what drives them. It seems so simple a way to live, yet so few can actually carry it off.
A couple of weeks ago, the Wilson community lost one of its finest gentlemen in Coach E.D. Hall. He was a friend, an educator, an ambassador for Wedgewood Golf Course and, maybe most importantly, a coach to many young men through the years. Coach Hall was one of those that had “it.”
Now, I never played for Coach Hall or played against a team that he coached. Heck, I never saw him in action on the baseball field, but I bet I can tell you how his teams played and I can tell you how lucky those players were to have him as their coach. His teams played hard. They were well prepared and fundamentally sound from hours of practice. His teams didn’t beat themselves and they respected the game. I also imagine they stood still during the national anthem and shook hands like sportsmen after the games. There is no doubt in my mind Coach Hall was everything a high school coach should be. Lee Woodard and Beddingfield were better places with him on the coaching staff.
Personally, I am going to miss those handshakes from those enormous hands and seeing him waiting on No. 11 green during rounds with a smile and a “How you playing, boss man?”
I know a certain golf professional at Wedgewood is going to miss his lunch partner and the frequent life discussions they had. Players in the Wilson County Amateur Championship are going to miss his deep voice announcing the players on the first tee. He made the tournament seem like a major. Wedgewood is going to miss the class and trustworthiness he brought to work every day. If Coach Hall said it, you could bank on it. In short, Coach brought a lot to the table.
I did find it ironic that he passed away around one of his favorite times of the year. He always looked forward to the Wilson Hot Stove League banquet every year, so he could see some of his former players. He made an effort every year to let them know he had bought a table and they were welcome to come home for a mini-reunion. The fact that a coach that many years later is still thinking about his players and they still are showing up for him is all you need to know about those relationships. I read a lot of the responses online after Coach passed and it was pretty special reading tributes from his former players and students. The respect his former players and students showed was overwhelming. What a legacy.
If you read my columns very often, you are probably aware that I have two sons that play sports. And you probably also can tell how important a role I think a coach has on our youth. The biggest compliment I could give Coach Hall is that I wish my two sons could have played for him. They would be better young men because of it. I know there is a whole generation of ball players that are better men, husbands and friends because of their time on Coach Hall’s team. In my book, that is what being a coach is all about.
So, well done, Coach. The world is a better place because of you. RIP, boss man.
David Lee is the Wilson Parks and Recreation Department Director. He is also a part-time golfer, part-time writer and, along with his wife, Dana, full-time parents of two boys.