Garner gets WSHoF Nod

Published 12:02 am Saturday, July 13, 2013

Jim Garner, long-time principal, teacher and coach, will be one of nine people inducted into the Wiregrass Sports Hall of Fame’s 2013 class tonight at the Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center in Dothan.

Garner said it’s an honor not only for him to be selected into the WSHoF, as much as it is an honor for those people who he worked with.

The former principal played basketball at Pleasant Home School, and after graduating in 1960, went on to play two years of junior college ball at Copiah-Lincoln Junior College in Mississippi. Garner then went back to Troy State University and earned his bachelor of science degree.

His first coaching job came at T.R. Miller in Brewton as a head basketball coach and science teacher.

“I still can’t figure out why they wanted to hire a green horn as a coach,” Garner quipped.

Garner stayed at TRM for two years and moved on to coach at New Hebron, Miss. During his four years in New Hebron, Garner went to Mississippi State University in the summers and got hist master’s degree.

“I won one ball game during my first year at New Hebron,” Garner recalled. “I stayed four years there. My last year, I got beat in the state championship game.”

Then, an opportunity Garner and his wife, Sherry, couldn’t pass up in New Brockton, where they call “home.”

At the time, Garner’s oldest son, Brad, was 1 year old.

“We had a lot of reasons of getting back to this area,” he said.

Garner took a head basketball coaching position at NBHS, where he helped lead the Gamecocks to one game shy of the state tournament.

After a year at the helm of the Gamecocks’ program, Garner left and coached at LBWCC for the next three years.

It was another opportunity to more importantly get back to Andalusia, he said.

“As the college grew, I got into administration and got to take a full time administration job for the evening college,” Garner said.

At this time, Garner got out of coaching for six years.

In 1980, Garner got back in the coaching circuit for the Saints’ men’s and women’s basketball program for the next four years.

Another opportunity opened up, this time at PHS as its new principal, where he served for 24 years until his retirement in 2010.

During his run as the principal at PHS, Garner served on the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s Central District Board of Control. He was on the board for 12 years.

“It gave me an opportunity to be totally involved in high school athletics in this state,” Garner said about his board post. “The board of control is like a board of directors for the association. Many decisions had to be made during that time.”

Garner said seeing girls’ athletic programs growing was a plus while serving. Additionally, the Final Four basketball format had already started when he was on the board.

“To see that develop off the ground was special,” he said.

A major development was consolidating the baseball and softball championship series, Garner said.

“Bringing the championship series in baseball to Riverwalk Stadium and Patterson Field — that was important,” he said.

Additionally, the consolidation moved the softball championship series to Lagoon Park, also in Montgomery.

Working on the board wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for those who worked with him at PHS, Garner said.

“It was just an opportunity to serve your school and beyond and be involved with boys and girls all over the state,” he said.