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Coaches#039; retirements bittersweet

A few weeks back we reported on the retirement of Coach Ronnie Faulk and Don Yancey.

Their leaving Greenville High School and Greenville Middle School respectively, are like the end of an era for me.

First, I've known Coach Faulk from years ago when he taught at Highland Home School. My older sister Jill and her friends, Donna Bush and Tina Owens, pretty much kept him busy.

Jill used to tell some funny stories about Coach Faulk and his classroom antics.

I never got the opportunity while at Highland Home to take a class under Faulk before he returned to teach at his own alma mater, GHS.

I do remember being pulled into his classroom many years ago when I was in upper elementary school at Highland.

He was questioning whether or not I planned to play football one day. I don't remember what I said, but I remember the grin he had on his face when I told him I would play.

When I transferred to GHS a few years later, I remember walking by his classroom and hearing him rave on about some formula the students were not getting.

I thought to myself that he was still the Coach Faulk I knew from Highland Home.

I think it will be very strange to go to a Greenville High School football game and not see him prowling back and forth on the sideline.

But I can tell you that his dedication over the years to sending people out with great math skills and also helping produce some great athletes will be something I won't forget.

When I transferred to GHS, I figured I would take a math class under Coach Faulk, but I never did. My math classes were under Coach Yancey.

The thing that has stuck with me many years now, soon to be 20, was how Coach Yancey not only welcomed students in his classroom in the morning before homeroom, but he pretty much encouraged it.

I'm not sure what the rules are now, but in those days you had to stand outside until the first bell rang sending students to homeroom.

Some days that was fine, but other days I would have some homework I would need to finish or just need some extra time studying.

You could always count on Coach Yancey for giving you that time.

I don't really know what time he got to school, but it had to be rather early,

and this gave him an opportunity to work with students, like me, who have never been strong in math.

On one particular day I tapped on his window and he waved for me to come around and join him and the few other students in the class.

When I stepped through the door, this short little, long haired female teacher came barreling down the hall yelling at me to go back outside.

When I tried to explain where I was going, I was told she didn't care. As I turned to go back out, Coach Yancey stepped outside his door and all the hostility the other teacher seem to have at me, began to reflect off of him.

He basically told her that he had told me to come in the building and that I was going to his classroom.

As you know, Coach Yancey is also a minister, so it all stayed pretty nice and calm on his part.

I do remember the last thing he said to her as I walked by him into his class and that was, "You know, sometimes learning can take place before 7:50 a.m."

He came back into his class smiling and actually whistling like nothing happened.

The other teacher never spoke to me again and that hasn't slowed me down.

Anyway, I wanted to take the opportunity to let these two men know that they have had an impact on my life and I wish them all the best in their retirement years.

But one more thing, how many of you believe that Coach and Mrs. Faulk will actually miss a Greenville High School football game?

Jay Thomas is managing editor of the Greenville Advocate.

He can be reached at 383-9302, ext. 136 or via email at jay.thomas@greenvilleadvocate.com.

Regular mail is P.O. Box 507, Greenville, AL 36037.