I wasn’t the most sports minded girl I knew in high school. There were many others who ate, lived and breathed basketball, which was the main sporting chance for females to engage in when I attended school. But I was enthusiastic about playing and still love the game today.
Our high school basketball coach, Coach O. S. Uffelman, was a man of many hats. I knew him under two hats; that of basketball coach plus that of American History teacher. In both guises, he was a very unique man. He made all of the students feel that he cared about them, and he was very sure of who he was.
I never saw Coach give in to any type of favoritism toward any of his students. He was straight up and down, first of all, a coach and a teacher, and then just an easy-going man. I am thankful that he was good natured and was one of the teachers who helped to instill in me a lifetime love of learning.
The basketball coach side of him was strict, we had to adhere to the rules of practice, there was no other way – except Coach’s way. The American History side of him enjoyed giving out information and watching his students blossom under his tutelage.
Funny thing, I don’t remember much of the record of wins and losses for those basketball teams Coach had back then. But I do recall the strength of the man, and his universal appeal to all of his students and to his team players.
Coach Uffelman was an inspiration to all of his athletic students and equally, to all of his American History students, many of which, like me, were the same. I will carry with me an indelible memory of Coach, as he mentored his basketball teams, and of him, as he stood before that American History class.
I was saddened when I heard Coach had passed away a few years ago. But I recently re-connected with his widow, Helen, on Facebook. I am sure she could add lots of good anecdotes to this story about my favorite coach.
Coach Uffelman was at Erin High School, Erin, Tennessee, which later was renamed to Houston County High School.