The Alcoa Alumni Association honored coach Gary Rankin and his football team and staff recently during their monthly meeting.
The group met at Shoneys on Alcoa Highway on March 4 to hear Bob Kessling of the Vol Network and to honor Rankin and company for their efforts in winning five consecutive state championships.
Alcoa City School board chair Mickey McClurg, whose wife Carolyn is president of the association, said several members of the group suggested they honor Rankin and his players for their work.
“We had Bob Kessling speaking that day and that’s the largest turnout I think they’ve ever had. They were able to recognize coach Rankin and the players,” he said. “This is the first time the alumni group has done that. Other organizations have honored them, but it’s the first time the alumni group has done anything like that.”
McClurg said the alumni association has been going quite a few years. “We’re not youngsters in the alumni group but Carol was real pleased with it, and everyone I’ve talked to has been,” he said of the response to the March meeting. “Hugh Phipps came from Atlanta to make the presentation. He and two of his brother played at Alcoa over the years.”
The group presented coach Rankin, the staff and players with a plaque. All-state player Sam Thompson also was on hand for the presentation. Rankin was impressed with the group’s dedication to the team and the school system.
“In our little community, the older generation is still loyal to the school and athletics,” he said. “I noticed that when I first came here. It’s nice, tight-knit group.”
Alcoa City Schools director Tom Shamblin said it was a tremendous gesture on the part of the alumni to recognize the accomplishments of the football team. The success of the team isn’t lost on Shamblin. “I think about how fortunate I am to be in this situation. I didn’t coach any of them and don’t have any of them in the classroom but sometimes I get the credit, and the honor shouldn’t go to me. Our players and coaches and parents have just been tremendous for our system,” he said.
The group meets at 9 a.m. the first Wednesday of each month at the Shoneys on Alcoa Highway. The meetings normal run about 90 minutes. “It gives them time to eat a bite if they want to, and they have a speaker and a little bit of a business meeting sometimes. It’s more of a social organization than anything,” McClurg said.
The alumni have been helpful on some school projects. “There are things they’ve done where they pitched in and bought things for the football team, and they’ve also given money to the school through the Alcoa City Schools Foundation.”