Former Gleason Bulldog players from the last 20 years gathered to pay
tribute to Randy Frazier.
Photo by Heather Phillips ~ Jackson Sun
Gleason Honors Coach Randy Frazier for 20 Years of Service
Sports Editor ~ Dresden Enterprise
For 20 years, Gleason High School Girls Basketball Head
Coach Randy Frazier has been coaching and molding young players in both the
junior high and high school programs.
On Saturday night, many of those players returned to their
alma mater to pay tribute to their coach, honoring Frazier with a surprise
celebration of his tenure at the helm of the girls program at Gleason School.
After a dinner to honor Coach Frazier in the school's
cafeteria, the crowd adjourned to the Dudley Sanders' Memorial Gymnasium for the
Kellie McElhiney Sims introduced the host for the evening,
former Gleason girls' assistant coach Shane Sisco. Sisco is now the head boys'
basketball coach of the Union City Golden Tornadoes. After having the Lord's
Prayer, led by Frazier, with former Gleason Lady Bulldog players in the
audience, Sisco shared some of his memories of working under Coach Frazier.
In the first of many presentations of the night, Lee Ann
Bell Smith presented Coach Frazier with a DVD tribute video, showing highlights
of his 20 years at the Gleason School.
Another member of the West Tennessee coaching community
was also on hand, as former Bradford girls and current Gibson County girls head
coach David Russell spoke about his rivalry and friendship with Coach Frazier,
ranging from topics on the court to fishing on the Mississippi River.
More presentations followed as Kristy McKee Dunn presented
Frazier with a scrapbook, while Beth Steele, Gail Muzzall and Cristi Sawyers
Wallace paid tribute to Coach Frazier's wife, Terry Frazier with gifts and
After hearing from former coach Henry Farrar, players from
both the 90s and recent years spoke about the effect Frazier had on them, both
past and present.
The final presentations of the night were then made.
Monica Aylor Rollins and Melanie Green Sawyers presented Frazier with a
commemorative quilt, showcasing his 20 years of coaching at Gleason, made by
Nancy Guthrie. Nicki Stephens Pace and Rollins then gave Frazier a painting of
himself from McKenzie artist Tuva Stephens, a Gleason alumna.
After a night of tribute, Frazier helped close the
program, thanking everyone for the overwhelming honor. Miss Basketball 1999
Ashley McElhiney and Kay Hudson closed the program, leading everyone in
attendance with the singing of the school's alma mater. Source: McKenzie Banner.
High School Basketball: Gleason Pays Tribute to
GLEASON - It's not
basketball season yet, but parking places were at a premium Saturday
night at Gleason. With the season still a couple of months away, the
school held a tribute for girls basketball coach Randy Frazier for 20
years of excellence in leading the Lady Bulldogs.
Frazier may have been the only person in Gleason
not to know about the evening until he arrived at the school.
"I'm speechless, especially on a night when
Tennessee is playing (football against. Florida)," Frazier said as he
entered the gymnasium for the evening's festivities, which began with
dinner in the cafeteria.
The night started for Frazier when his wife had a
tie ready for him.
"Terry told me to trust her," he said.
He still wasn't sure what was going on when he was
intercepted by local police for an escort to the school.
"I thought we had run a stop sign," he said.
Frazier began to figure out what was going on when
he saw signs leading to the high school that had his motivational
sayings on them. Among them was one that read, "Offense scores points,
defense wins games."
Frazier finally figured what was going on when he
arrived at the school and saw a sign thanking him for his years of
"This is a night to honor coach Randy Frazier and
what he has meant to the program. We won't be running tonight at all,"
former Gleason player Vanessa Patrick said to the delight of the crowd.
After dinner, the crowd moved into Dudley Sanders
Memorial Gymnasium where speaker after speaker was introduced by Union
City boys basketball coach Shane Sisco, who hosted the event. He quickly
noted there were coaches in attendance but no officials.
Sisco was an assistant to Frazier in the late
'90s, and last spring he led Union City to the boys' Class A state
Gibson County girls basketball coach David Russell
looked at ease in a gymnasium where he undoubtedly was applauded for the
first time in his life. The former Bradford coach's teams squared off
with the Lady Bulldogs in some of the area's greatest games.
"Shane (Sisco) said there are no officials here
tonight. Randy was the best official in the gym," Russell said. "Two
great schools, two great communities, and I don't think we will ever
have that situation again."
The legion of Gleason players who went to the
podium expressed their appreciation to the individual who's had a
tremendous impact on their lives.
Afterwards, the appreciation continued as the
crowd mingled on the floor.
"(Playing for Frazier was) the most rewarding
experience. Everybody knows about Gleason basketball," 1996 Miss
Basketball Kara Atkins said. Atkins, whose maiden names is Sanders, is
now a stay-at-home mother of two. She obtained her degree in education
About the possibility of her four-year old playing
for Frazier, "You never know."
Most attendees couldn't control their emotions,
having been part of a district title at one time or another. Frazier has
fifteen, as well as two region, one state runner-up, and two state
titles ('92 and '99). Frazier's record with Gleason is 535-103.
"I don't have the words to show the love and
gratitude for (Saturday). The program is not about any one person but a
part of a puzzle, and it all has to fit together. I can't remember the
wins, but I can remember the losses. I've been at Gleason 21 years and
have never worked a day," said Frazier, who was diagnosed with thyroid
cancer in the spring and has since had surgery twice.
"You don't have to thank me. Every day I see those
who are moms, workers. That's the thanks." ---
Heather Phillips /The Jackson Sun
McElhiney Puts ABA Experience Behind Her
McElhiney may understand better than anyone else whether an ABA
franchise can succeed in West Tennessee.
She grew up in Gleason and then went on to coach
the Nashville Rhythm from 2004-05.
Although she doesn't follow the league any more,
McElhiney said the ABA could flourish in Jackson.
"With the right people it could succeed," she said
Saturday during a tribute to honor Gleason coach Randy Frazier.
McElhiney's experiences in the ABA and her abrupt
firing are not her favorite subjects. She declined any further comment
on the situation.
However, McElhiney - who is in her second year as
the director of human and organizational development for University of
Alabama women's basketball team - wanted to talk about was the success
As the evening's final speaker, McElhiney, 25,
standing on the floor where she enjoyed some of her greatest moments,
eyed those in attendance.
"This is the first time I have ever been this
nervous. We were more impressed with (Frazier) as a person than
And McElhiney got to know Frazier well over the
years. In fact, she got to know the high school coach sooner than most.
When she was in the first and second grade,
McElhiney spent time dribbling a basketball on a stage that was
courtside at Gleason's old gym as the Lady Bulldogs held practice. She
would often get in trouble with Frazier for doing so.
When Gleason won its first state title in 1992,
McElhiney moved front and center in the Dudley Sanders Memorial
Gymnasium, sitting in the front row during the celebration. Thoughts of
"I want to do that some day" naturally followed.
That day came in 1999 when McElhiney won the Class
A state championship with Gleason. She was also named Class A Miss
Basketball that same year.
"It's a huge honor to be nominated. A great honor,
but never did individual awards take the place of a state title," she
said. "It was incredible what we overcame. We were underdogs, not a tall
McElhiney shrugged when asked where the Miss
Basketball trophy is now.
"I think my mom has it in the house somewhere."
Due to her basketball prowess, McElhiney received
several letters from colleges but selected Vanderbilt.
"After my visit I knew that's where I was supposed
to be. I never thought about anywhere else but (Vandy)."
At Vanderbilt, McElhiney played in the NCAA
tournament, reaching the regional finals. The Commodores even managed to
defeat mighty Tennessee twice in the SEC tournament.
"The Elite Eight was huge. (It was) a great
After college, McElhiney's life began to take more
turns than the Tater Day Parade in Gleason. She was hired to be an
assistant at Ohio State under Jim Foster. Foster had coached her at
But it was goodbye Columbus before she even got
The upstart Nashville Rhythm of the American
Basketball Association hired her to be the head coach, making her the
first female to lead a men's professional team.
The conflict with the team owner is well
documented, and McElhiney has put more distance between that incident
than there are miles between Columbus, Ohio, and her current post in
But on Saturday she returned to her old stomping
grounds. When all is quiet, you can still hear a roar of the crowd if
you listen hard enough.
She read a poem in a voice that continued to
quiver, but like her other team members, she held her composure as if
they were shooting a one-and-one with no time on the clock. ---
Heather Phillips /The Jackson Sun
Tribute brings Lady Bulldog Family Together
Stephanie Sturgis ~ Sports Editor, Weakley County Press
A few years ago, a country song entitled "Here's Your
Sign" made a statement about pointing out the obvious.
Saturday night in Gleason, girls basketball coach Randy
Frazier got many signs, both literal and figurative, to show him how beloved and
admired he is by the players he mentored during his 20 years at the helm of the
highly successful Gleason Lady Bulldog basketball program.
Players from throughout his coaching tenure at Gleason
traveled from as far away as California to gather together in Dudley Sanders
Memorial Gymnasium, site of so many of those Gleason victories, for a surprise
tribute to the coaching legend honoring his successes and positive influence
over the past two decades.
Athletes from every era and fellow coaches made their way
to the podium to tell their stories of what impact the Gleason sideline leader
has made in their lives.
"This is my opportunity to say thank you for the
opportunity to live on this floor. You gave us a belief in ourselves and the
dedication to know what it takes to be winners," Tonya Parham Lutz said during
her time at the microphone.
Those sentiments, lessons learned about dedication and
devotion and desire to succeed, were repeated time after time, often said by
successful women overcome with emotion or laughing about shared moments.
Saturday started out as a normal fall day for the GHS
coach with a golf outing in the afternoon to be followed by an evening watching
his beloved Tennessee Volunteers take on heated rival Florida in football
The evening plans were pushed aside by an unexpected
demand by the coach's wife, Terry, to get dressed and put on a tie after his
return from the golf course. "It wasn't easy," Terry Frazier said of coaxing her
husband into the necktie and away from the television.
Still in the dark as to what was on the agenda, Frazier
eventually complied and rode with his wife and children, Jenna and Preston, into
town. Another clue that this wasn't just any Saturday night came when the
Frazier's vehicle was met by a police escort which led the family to the school
in the heart of Tater Town.
On the way, signs posted alongside the streets gave hints
that basketball was the theme of the evening. Event organizers had stationed
posterboard signs with mottoes and phrases that echo in the gym during every
practice and are shouted out in huddles over the roar of the crowd during every
game. "Be the best." "UCLA." "110%." "Offense wins games. Defense wins
championship." "All it takes is all you've got." The phrases pointed the coach's
way back to the Gleason gym.
When a surprised Frazier walked into the lobby of the
school, he was greeted by applause and camera flashes from two thirds of the 58
players he coached at Gleason High School on the way to a sterling record of 535
wins and only 103 losses.
"It was a shock. I didn't know. I didn't have a clue. I
figured we just had to go somewhere for church, but then the police stopped up
and said, 'Follow us.' Then I saw the signs like they do for the tournaments,"
the winning coach said of finally understanding what was going on.
"It's the best. It's good to see everybody. It brings back
a lot of memories. This is what separates us, we're a family. This is the Lady
Bulldog family," he added.
After a dinner buffet, players, friends and family
gathered in the gym to watch a DVD tribute with footage and photos of moments
both on and off the court over the past two decades. Although the hair styles,
uniforms and faces changed as the video presentation marched through the 20
years, the tradition and victories were consistent throughout.
Shane Sisco, currently the coach of the defending state
champion Union City Tornadoes boys basketball team and a former boys head coach
and assistant to Frazier at Gleason from 1997-99, acted as master of ceremonies
since longtime Gleason fixture Mitchell Parham was in Knoxville. Parham, the
assistant principal lovingly known by students as "Mr. P," did make an
appearance in the video tribute offering his congratulations and also teasing
Frazier with the fact that he was currently in attendance at the Vol game.
Former Bradford head coach David Russell, now the leader
of the Gibson County girls team, spoke of the intense rivalry between the two
schools in the 1990s. "A lot of great players from two great schools in two
great communities got together. It was a great time and may never be matched
again," Russell said.
West Tennessee coaching legend Henry Farrar also commented
on Frazier, noting he was always prepared and well organized and did his best to
get the full potential from every player.
As the evening went on, Frazier wasn't the only one
honored, as Terry Frazier received praise and hugs for the sacrifices she has
given to the Lady Bulldog program and its players. Beth Steele presented her a
framed photo of the Lady Bulldog coach in action entitled "The Strength Beyond."
Cristi Sawyers Wallace thanked the coach's wife for the
hugs she handed out and the clothes she washed over the years, "You were the
second mom for more than 20 years of girls. You are a saint for having to put up
with 20 years worth of girls. You held down the bottom row of bleachers in every
gym we ever played in. I'd like to say thank you."
"It was just incredible. Words can't describe it. It
brought back so many memories. I'm thankful and blessed to be a part of this
community. The way they show gratitude is second to none," Terry Frazier said
after the tribute.
Presentations were also made to the man who guided the
Gleason girls to two state titles, one state runnner-up finish, two region
championships and 15 district crowns. He received a scrapbook filled with
memorabilia, a portrait entitled "Vision for Champions" painted by 1971 Gleason
graduate Tuva Stephens and a handmade quilt honoring his 535 wins which includes
the names of all his players. The quilt was made by former Gleason guidance
counselor Nancy Guthrie. "It was a labor of love. There's a lot of love and
respect in there," Guthrie said of the quilt she spent the summer months working
"This is a total reflection of his 20 years, not just of
teaching the game of basketball, but of teaching the skills you need in life,"
former GHS player Kellie McElhiney Sims said after the official ceremonies
Monica Aylor Rollins was one of the driving forces behind
organizing the tribute. "You know as you get older, you see the important things
in life. It was more than an honor to put this together. It was an honor because
of the man he is and the things off the court he does to influence kids,"
Rollins, a former player and current teacher at Gleason, said.
"I'm a little uneasy about this evening. I've always
taught that, even as a coach, you're only one part of the team, a piece of the
puzzle. I've always taught that if you work together as a team, good things will
ultimately happen to you. I've had a lot of 80 hour weeks here, but if you do
something you love, it's not work," the Gleason coach and principal said at the
microphone near the close of the event. "I can't remember all the wins or losses
but I can remember every girl here. I wake up thankful every day for the
opportunity to do what I do."
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