By Matt Hill
JOHNSON CITY — It was a very special night for Hampton High School on Sunday in Johnson City, and the Bulldogs didn’t win a ball game.
Hampton athletic director Kim Walsh was able to receive the George and Patty McKinney sportsmanship award for the Watauga Valley Conference at the Region I Basketball Officials Banquet at Carver Recreation Center.
After retired officials and coaches were honored, Patty McKinney went up to the stage to present the conference sportsmanship awards for the Big Eight, Three Rivers, Blue Ridge, Watauga Valley and the Christian schools.
McKinney is from Mountain City and has been a fixture in doing behind the scenes work at Johnson County High School sporting events for almost 20 years.
McKinney, along with her late husband George, always made officials, opposing teams and media feel at home by fixing home cooked meals like lasagna, chili and chicken casserole.
George passed away about five years ago, but the Region I officials wanted to honor his legacy and to honor what all McKinney did for people by naming the sportsmanship award in their honor.
It may be fitting then that on this night, it was Johnson County’s biggest rival, who ended up winning one of the awards and ended up having it presented to her by McKinney.
Walsh posed for a picture with McKinney and Carver Rec Center’s Herb Greenlee.
Walsh says it was a great accomplishment for Hampton High School to achieve this award.
“I’m really blown away,” she said. “It’s not only for the coaches and the athletes, but I think it’s for the fans. It’s big recognition and it’s really exciting.
Hampton legends J.C. Campbell, Jerry White and Doug Phillips were all in attendance.
“J.C. Campbell and Jerry White said, ‘Mrs. Walsh I don’t ever recall us getting a sportsmanship award when we were around’ and I said ‘you said it, I didn’t.’”
Sportsmanship is being talked about more and more at Hampton and as A.D. Walsh’s goal is to promote it more and more.
“At every pep rally we emphasize good sportsmanship to our pep club,” Walsh said. “That is fantastic to be honored like this tonight. To my knowledge this is the first one we have won.”
Sullivan South won the Big Eight, South Greene won the Blue Ridge and Providence Academy took the Christian school conference plaque.
The last one left is the Three Rivers, and that went to a Carter County school that has received a lot of publicity lately.
Happy Valley was the winner of the Three Rivers award and rightfully so after the class the players, coaching staff and fans showed in Charlie Bayless’ last home game Friday night.
Bayless has always stressed good sportsmanship to his players and he feels it’s something very important to do.
“It’s great for the boys because they show good sportsmanship and don’t get the coach in trouble and don’t get a lot of technical fouls. I had one Friday night, but it was planned,” Bayless said.
One thing the officials look at is school spirit and the Warrior students showed their spirit Friday night by painting their bodies and faces and even though they were loud, they were very respectful.
Some schools don’t like kids painting their faces and being loud, but Happy Valley did it with a lot of class in the Sullivan East game.
Bayless noticed just how well-behaved and spirited the kids were in that historic contest.
“They brought back some camaraderie,” Bayless said. “To me it’s been great for us to get this award and have a great senior night Friday night. Good thing about this last year coaching, I have all three coaches who played for me. It’s been great.”
The following are a list of coaches and officials who were honored with a special plaque. Not all were in attendance:
REFEREES: Danny Birkner, David Birkner, Carroll Boone, Maynard Crowe, Robert Devault, Eddie Durham, Dale Ford, Kenny Gouge, Jack Hamilton, Henry Stacy, Larry Taylor, Bobby Townsend.
COACHES: Bobby Chambers, Glenn Fisher, John Hyatt Sr., Elvin Little, Clarence Mabe, Doug Phillips, Gary Scharman, Ronnie Snavely, Dickie Warren, Jerry White, Bill Wilson.