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The Coach Jim "Hoot" Gibson Memorial Game returns to Kingston this Friday to remember a great coach and educator for both Loudon and Kingston High Schools.
Coach Gibson passed away January 21, 2005 after battling lung cancer. Coach Gibson built a legacy as a football coach/educator for over 38 years in the East Tennessee area. He was one of the best defensive coaches in the state during his various coaching experiences highlighted by multiple State Championships at Loudon High School as Defensive Coordinator with legendary Coach Chig Ratledge and State Runner-Up at Kingston as Head Coach in 1981 vs. Brentwood.
He truly exemplified the heart of a coach. He was respected by his players and fellow coaches because of his genuine concern, intensity, knowledge, and the ability to encourage through a special look on his face, pat on the shoulder, reassuring comments, and sometimes a grabbing of the face mask or kick in the rear which was okay many years ago.
Our coaches are sometimes overlooked in the role they play in developing our young people. Coaches have a huge responsibility in being a positive influence in developing our young people and their fellow coaches not only in their respective sport but also in life.
As athletes we know handling many life experiences are learned through our sport both good and bad. It is encouraging to continue to hear stories of former players, coaches, community members, friends who recall Coach Gibson while he lived. Players like myself continue to feel it a privilege to have been a player for him. The contest between Kingston and Loudon continues to be an opportunity to reflect on Coach Gibson as a person and coach.
My perception of how our coaches influence youth has grown along with my appreciation for the time spent in their development not only playing a sport and performing in the classroom but also for life. Just last week Coach (Ryan) Shoup from Farragut passed away with his career highlighted as a great father, educator, coach and sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. My son Tyler Ladd had the privilege of knowing Coach Shoup as a player and more recently helping Farragut and Coach Shoup with FCA.
Coach Gibson along with many other coaches who have passed seem to carry a common theme of having a special relationship with their athletes which is never forgotten. This was also highlighted in this years documentary on high school football by Kenny Chesney on his song the "Boys of Fall".
Coach Gibson's players knew they could count on him to prepare them for their football contests and preparation for life experiences probably were not realized until years passed after being under his coaching. I still think of Coach Gibson along with my other coaches every time I step on the Kingston football field and always will.
I was privileged to play for Coach Gibson my junior/senior years at Kingston after playing for another great coach, Jess Plemons. I often think of Coach Gibson during football season as I recall the lessons learned on the football field as a player for him and reflecting on the privilege of having him as a father-in-law and grandfather to my children. I definitely miss watching football games with him. I recall watching Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt with him once during a hospital visit the final football season before he passed and the nurses had to remind him to stay calm as his heart rate and BP started to rise. Even in his final months of life his passion for football continued.
We all should desire to build a legacy in various areas of life including family, career, faith, community service, etc. Coach Gibson had a legacy of being a great person and coach who provided a positive influence on young people through his coaching philosophy and personality.
I recall reading an article in his early days of coaching at Erwin, Tenn. on his feelings toward the Fellowship of Christian athletes which he commented was a great organization for helping young people develop. His grandson Luke Ladd presently works for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes covering territory Coach Gibson is well known including Roane/Loudon/Morgan/Scott Counties.
Coach Gibson was inducted this year into the Morristown Hall of Fame along side his high school and Carson-Newman coach Jerry Morris. These type of activities are helpful to keep our loved ones alive in our memories. I am confident the influence of Coach Gibson on his athletes continues to impact their ability to handle life experiences.
The Kingston vs. Loudon football contest will continue to restore the memory of Coach Gibson. It will also educate present generations, of athletes, coaches and communities on the need to remember individuals who carried on school traditions and had a special influence.
Contact Luke Ladd at email@example.com or 865 805-9054 for details if you would like to get make a financial contribution in memory of Coach Gibson for advancing the Roane/Loudon FCA efforts. A trophy will be presented to the winning team after the game with both teams meeting at midfield to spend a few moments remembering Coach Gibson.
Former Kingston Player for Coach Gibson/Son-in-Law