he summer months are a popular time of year for holding high school class reunions. Ive attended three, over the years, and Ive really enjoyed the opportunity to reunite with good friends from my younger days.
Im currently involved with a group thats organizing a differing type of reunion. Its composed of former athletes of Harlem High School.
The group was formed for the purpose of honoring former Harlem High School basketball coach Tom Whitfield, who compiled an outstanding winning record from 1955 through the 1965 season.
A special program has been planned for Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Harlem High School commons area. A tribute by former players and supporters will be preceded by a barbecue dinner beginning at 6 p.m.
Anyone interested in obtaining tickets can contact James Anderson at 541-2398. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.
Whitfield began his career coaching both the girls and boys teams. After a few winning seasons, he turned over duties of coaching the girls teams to another coach. The Lady Bulldogs had enjoyed quite an impressive winning record under Coach Whitfields leadership.
Beginning in the late 1950s, Coach Whitfield devoted his efforts to coaching the boys. For the next several years, his teams built a winning record that ranked as one of the best in Georgia. During the decade that ended in 1965, Coach Whitfields teams compiled a record of 214 wins and 66 losses.
One memorable event that took place during those years was the annual Chronicle-Herald CSRA Tournament. Basketball teams from area counties took place in elimination play that continued for several days. Teams from Georgia and South Carolina competed. Then, the remaining teams from each state played for the first-place trophy. During Coach Whitfields era, Harlem won top honors twice.
During that period, the Bulldogs won seven area and five region championships while competing impressively at the state level.
As part of the program on Aug. 23, a number of former players and supporters will share memories of those glory days. I know that his other former players will agree that this tribute is long overdue.
hose of us who are involved in planning this special event are looking forward to reuniting with former teammates and friends. We are pleased to have this opportunity to honor a great coach. Congratulations, Coach Whitfield - those truly were the best of times.
(Phil Blanchard is former basketball player under Coach Tom Whitfield, and publisher emeritus of The Columbia County News-Times.)
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