Family comes before basketball

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2005

As the school year draws to a close, the revolving doors of change are ever turning.

That revolving door isn't too far away either.

As you have read, Greenville athletic director Alvin Briggs will be busy trying to fill two spots on his football staff while looking for a new boys basketball coach.

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When I learned of Randy Fullington's resignation, I have to admit that I was taken back by the announcement.

Fullington is just 38 years old, so he's not close to retirement age. He led the Tigers to a regional tournament berth in just his third season. So his resignation wasn't based lack of success.

Fullington has two young boys at home, and they are taking precedent over his basketball coaching career.

When Fullington said that God and family come first, I was taken back to the day that I was given a bookmark by legendary high school football coach Nick Hyder.

On the Valdosta (Ga.) High bookmark were six words: God, family, country, academics, friends, Wildcats.

Before Hyder's untimely death in 1996, he explained to me that those were the priorities he expected of himself, his coaching staff and his players.

There is no doubt Hyder put God first in his life. Hyder didn't have a big family, although his extended family was vast.

Hyder loved his country.

His football players were held to academic standards higher than most parents would hold their children to.

Hyder had friends a plenty.

And finally there were the Wildcats. Winning came naturally at Valdosta. It's not the winningest high school football program in the country for nothing. It didn't get that way if not for the Hyder's legend and Wright Bazemore's legend.

Some coaches are in the business to advance as far as they can. Some are in it for the money. Others like Hyder were in the coaching business for the children to make them successful as they could be.

Hyder told me that he was proud of his seven state championships, but he was more proud of his players when they achieved in life beyond the sidelines of Hyder-Bazemore Stadium.

So when Fullington told me that he was stepping down for family reasons, I can't think of anything more honorable as a coach.

Fullington made me pull that bookmark out and read it again.

Sometimes I just wish there were other coaches like Hyder and Fullington.

Kevin Taylor is sports editor of The Greenville Advocate. You can e-mail him at or call (334) 383-9302 ext. 122.