The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

June 18, 2013

COLUMN: Coach spins yarns, Todd-style

By Kim West

— The tales, triumphs and tribulations of this year’s 12-member class inducted into the Limestone County Sports Hall of Fame and those of the previous 10 classes flooded the acceptance speeches and the 43-page program given to each of the more than 275 people at Saturday’s banquet at the Limestone County Event Center.

Former Athens High School basketball coach Jerry Todd, who was inducted into the LCSHOF in 2012, was invited to give the keynote speech at this year’s ceremony. The colorful coach said he was proud to be a member but also said it was important to remain humble and prioritize people’s stories.

Todd, whose former player Keith Askins is an assistant coach for the defending NBA champion Miami Heat, surveyed a crowd filled with local sports legends and declared, “I think there’s enough pride in this room to float a steamboat down the Tennessee River.”

The coach kept the crowd chuckling with his topsy-turvy tales, including one about a tongue-in-cheek chat with an 80-year-old tree in his backyard that made him realize his athletic accomplishments pale in comparison to Mother Nature.

“We are our stories,” said Todd, who won 447 basketball games at Athens. “It’s all relative, and there’s no such thing as good, better and best. It’s just human beings striving to do their best … you’ve just got to be humble through all this.”

He urged audience members to “pay attention and look around,” learn to take criticism and “when you get fired, try to get a better job.”

“I don’t remember the scores but I always remember the stories. And I can remember the guys on the bench as well as I can the starters.” Todd said. “Satisfaction doesn’t come from trophies. Satisfaction comes from knowing you went out each night and did your best.”

Todd might have retired years ago from pacing in front of the Golden Eagles’ bench but he still has plenty left in the teaching tank.